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A Simple Way to Destress

Updated on May 22, 2011

When is the last time you listened to the outside world? Not just your cell phone, radio, or tv, but the natural sounds outside your window?

A major cause of stress in today's world is background noise. Too much noise distracts us, dividing our attention. In many homes, businesses, and cars, the radio or television is on all the time while we are concentrating on day-to-day activities. Studies have shown that distractions while driving are the major cause of traffic accidents, and even listening to the car radio takes attention away from driving.

When you work, drive or are doing important things at home, do you:

  • have the radio on?
  • have the tv on?
  • get interrupted by your cell phone or other phone?
  • do two or more things at one time rather than concentrating on the task at hand?

These things all contribute to day-to-day stress.

Here is a simple way to de-stress, and it only takes a few minutes of your time. You can do this anywhere, except for when driving.

  • Shut off all distractions. This includes the cell phones, radio, and tv.

  • Quiet your mind from repetitive thoughts of what you should be doing.
  • Breathe deeply, letting the breath come from your abdomen.
  • Name 5 things you see, either to yourself or aloud. If you can't find 5, then do the number that you can.
  • Name 5 things you hear.
  • Name 5 things you smell.
  • Name 5 things you feel. Not within your body, but connections from your body to things you are touching.

  • Close your eyes and breathe, using all your senses to listen to the world around you.

Now, open your eyes. How do you feel?

Do this exercise as often as you need, and it will help you feel less stressed. Remember to notice the distractions in your life and minimize them when possible, cutting down on your stress in the first place.

See the books below for additional easy tips on reducing stress in your life.


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    • Susan Ng profile image

      Susan Ng Yu 

      9 years ago

      I destress by spending time with my cats. :)  Sometimes I rest my head gently against their bodies and listen to the sound of their purring.  The vibrations are quite soothing. :D

    • KT pdx profile imageAUTHOR

      KT pdx 

      9 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      Thanks for your comment and suggestions, Robert. I will amend the hub to include that. I, too, deal with chronic pain, but I was thinking more along the lines of this: if you're sitting in a chair, you can feel your feet on the floor (or your feet inside your shoes), your back against the chair, fingers and arms on the armrests, etc. See, now, that's only three right there! :)

    • robertsloan2 profile image


      9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Interesting. A long time ago I stopped using video for background noise. I stopped even watching the news and now read it on the Internet, where there's more depth and no cheap paper to recycle in vast quantity. Watching the news was an enormous background stress in itself.

      Then some years ago just by habit I stopped leaving the radio on. It was all right while driving because it provides a sound barrier against other more stressful noises like people cussing and loud machinery, if you're not paying attention to it. But when there is uninterrupted silence or birdsong it makes a big difference, and can be far more relaxing.

      Much of the time there aren't five distinct things to hear, not in the middle of the night -- either there's nothing but my cat snoring and my breath, or there's machine noises like the washing machine on. That still makes only three. So I would add to that list if there are not five distinct things to hear, don't worry about it. Enjoy the silence.

      And if you are dealing with chronic pain, do not do the one about "5 things you feel" or you will wind up paying real attention to your joints, your stomach, your tender spots, the particular symptoms that are much better left ignored than paid attention to. Five things you feel is only good if you are not in actual distracting pain for one or more of them. I'd always have at least five separate symptoms in the symphony of pain, so adapt these techniques to who you are and your own living situation and conditions.


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