A friend recently asked for some tips on how I de-stress.
A friend recently asked for some tips on how I de-stress. I decided to write them all down and share.
Dave’s De-Stress Guide
A few notes before I hop in to it:
- These are modalities that have worked for me. They may or may not work for you given your bio-individuality, sex, environment, context, circumstances, etc. Eventually, you need to own your own mental health, and this will give you a starting point to DYOR (do your own research).
- Ultimately, all of these are interconnected! Deficiency in one area will lead to poorer results in other areas.
- These are ranked in terms of what, for me, has the most impact. They could be completely flipped for you.
I struggle with this, and I think everyone does. But mood and overall sense of wellbeing, for me, is most directly correlated with the quality of sleep I get.
Tactics to get better sleep:
- Caffeine. I’m hella sensitive. I’d highly recommend a caffeine detox. If possible, do it over the weekend, and sleep whenever you want to sleep (usually this means naps during the day and going to sleep at like 7pm.) Caffeine is a hell of a drug, and before I started doing regular detoxes a few years ago, I had perma-brain fog.
- Blue Light. A bunch of studies show “blue” light from phones and screens fucks with your sleep. Download f.lux for your computer, and turn on Night Shift on your phone.
- Do not disturb. I control when I get notifications, not the other way around. Turn on Do Not Disturb on your phone every night automatically via your iPhone Settings.
- Oura ring (or other sleep tracker.) These can be pricey, but the info is definitely worth it. Only got 45 mins of deep sleep instead of 90 last night? Oh, it was because I had 2 glasses of wine instead of 1. Boom, now I know a thing that messes with my sleep. It’s kind of sad/hilarious to see how little/how bad your sleep is, but knowledge is power 😂
Working with a Mental Health professional
Having a non-partisan, highly trained professional —( like a physical trainer, but for your brain) is immensely valuable.
Again, this is highly personal, and I won’t profess to be an expert here. Do your own research, but give it a go if you can.
Meditation is wild. To say my experience with meditation is profound would be an understatement. That said, it’s impact is:
- Much less easily quantified
- Takes much longer to manifest
- Can be incredibly uneven (and sometimes make you even feel worse in the short term!)
I highly recommend you start meditating 20 minutes a day. If you don’t have time for that, I’d recommend meditating 40 minutes a day.
If you’re earnest about starting a practice, I’m happy to guide/help — just let me know.
If you want to dip your toes in, there are some awesome apps that make it much easier to on-ramp.
If all the benefits of exercise were available in a pill, it would be hailed as a wonder drug.
Intense, strenuous exercise not only has positive effects on your body, but improves your mental health and cognitive function just as much, if not more.
I can post a thousand scholarly articles, anecdotal evidence, etc., etc., blah blah blah, but I think everyone is pretty aware of this.
In regards to implementation, I prefer short, intense bouts of exercise (just to get it over with.)
Exercise and finding the right fit is intensely personal, so I won’t be prescriptive here, but I’ll post some links below as a starting point.
- 12 Minute Athlete (app)
- Versa Climber (Used by Lebron, hella intense workout in like 6 minutes)
- Airdyne Air Bike (Another awesome way to get your heart rate way up in like 5 mins)
Also, not saying you should necessarily buy a Versa Climber or Air Bike, but find a gym with one.
Nutrition (in my experience) is very bio-individualized, perhaps much more so than anything else on this list. However, there are some general rules of thumb that I follow that have absolutely improved my mood.
- Get high quality produce and meat, even if it means spending a little more. I’m lucky in that I have enough money to buy really top quality produce and meats. Hopefully you can afford some as well. I get Good Eggs, which is basically Farmer’s Market fresh food delivered to my door for produce, and order from Crowd Cow for meat. I live in California, which is obviously a great place to get high quality ingredients, but if you do some Googling you should be able to find a CSA or a Farmer’s Market nearby.
- Double your fruit and vegetable consumption. This ties directly into the above point of buying better quality produce. If your produce is garbage, you’re going to eat a lot less of it. Additionally, the nutritional density of low quality, older produce (eg what you buy at a big supermarket) tends to be garbage as well.
Supplementation is just that, supplemental. I would say of the whole pie of all the sections listed above, supplementation probably accounts for at most a 5% slice. Of course, even 1% or 2% is better than 0%! Supplementation is second only to nutrition (in my experience) in terms of bio-individualization, so you’ll need to experiment.
Supplements I recommend:
- Magnesium. Absolutely noticeable difference in my mood. Not crazy, but noticeable. I recommend Life Extension Magnesium.
- Fish oil. Fish oil got a bad rap recently for going rancid, but that’s because the quality varies greatly. IMO, helps with mental focus/clarity. I recommend WHC UnoCardio 1000 + Vitamin D 1000.
Based on my own estimation, we probably understand somewhere between 10–20% of how the brain+body work. Because of this, many of the tactics listed above may have zero benefit for you, or even make you more stressed. They have been useful for me — your mileage may vary.
I only feel confident in these modalities because of the work I’ve done over the past ~10 years experimenting on myself — take that for what it’s worth.
If any of these suggestions DO work for you, that’s awesome, and I’d love to hear about it. Additionally, if you want more resources on any of this stuff, I’m pretty far down the rabbit hole here, and can definitely point you towards way more resources.
Good luck bbs