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10 Little Things I Do When Life Is Out of Control
Besides kicking and screaming.
Recently, my life has been nonstop.
Over the last 3 months, I’ve been on the road either training Jiu-Jitsu, teaching a seminar, competing in Jiu-Jitsu, seeing my girlfriend in San Diego, or moving/traveling every single weekend except for one. The next several weeks will follow the same structure — a structure of constant action.
While I’m grateful to be able to live this life, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
I get stressed out, burnt out, and overwhelmed. I’m only human.
Luckily, I’m pretty good at managing my stress.
Here are 10 things I do to manage that stress:
I go for a walk.
Walks are the way.
When I’m losing weight for a BJJ tournament, a nightly walk is a part of my routine.
Sometimes, the walk is long, with headphones on, and I listen to a book. Other times, it’s quiet and I listen to earth spin. Sometimes, the walk is fast. Today was bike sprint day at the gym, so the walk was slow.
Either way, a walk a day keeps my anxiety at bay.
I do Jiu-Jitsu.
This is predictable coming from me, but it’s also a bit more complicated than you might think.
I love Jiu-Jitsu, but at this point in my life, Jiu-Jitsu is how I make almost all of my income. Jiu-Jitsu is my passion, but it’s also my job. Jobs can be stressful.
Because of this, I sometimes become emotional about my training performance, my health, and my competition results.
However, no matter what, just going into a gym and rolling around for fun (or going to a new gym where no one knows me) is one of the best ways for me to relieve stress and remind myself of the joy of doing what I do.
I do sprints.
For a lot of people, Jiu-Jitsu is enough to cure anxiety. Not me though.
Like I said, BJJ is my job. I get stressed. Sometimes training Jiu-Jits doesn’t help me at all.
Sprinting, however, helps me a lot.
Working out in general is great for your mental health/stress management, but there’s really nothing quite like some hard sprints in an open field or on an Airdyne bike — a device I’m confident was placed here by Satan himself — to put life in perspective
After a hard sprint workout, worrying about anything except catching your breath is hard. It’s a very humbling and freeing sensation.
Just get ready to be sore the next day.
I make lists.
I don’t know how I functioned before I started making to-do lists every week.
My girlfriend is a lot better than me at this, and she’s the one who put me onto them. I just make lists of the stuff I have to do every week (and beyond).
Every day I train, 2-3 days per week I lift, once per week I sprint, and every day I do a little Grappler’s Diary Instagram post. However, if I don’t have a to-do list, I struggle with managing what work I must do each week.
Making lists of the things I have to do helps me stay on track when life is crazy.
(This article itself is an example of that.)
I take a day off.
Training, traveling, and writing are a lot of work.
On top of this, I also have to remember to do “normal person things”, like making time for my girlfriend, staying in touch with friends, budgeting, eating, sleeping (more on that in a minute), and doing the dishes. Managing all this can be overwhelming.
The way I manage all this is that when I need a f*cking break, I take a f*cking break. I sleep till 10, order a pizza, and put on a movie — normally one that scares the crap out of me.
There’s no better rest than devoting time to true rest.
I beat myself up a little less.
I get beat up for a living.
It’s best that I don’t add to the beating myself.
Some days, I wake up early, read Confucius or Dosteovsky, meditate, train, lift, and write 3000+ words. Some days I work like the gates of hell are chasing me.
On other days, however, I don’t. I can’t be insanely productive all the time. I’m just one person juggling many different things.
One of the best things I’ve started to do when I’m stressed out is to take it a little easier on myself on the days when I don’t get as much done. This makes it easier to bounce back the following day.
I cook a nice meal.
I am not an award-winning chef, but I really like cooking.
I like what it means.
There’s something self-affirming about taking the time to cook yourself (and your loved ones) a nice meal. It shows you that you love yourself. It shows that you are worth some tender love and care.
It shows you that there’s more to life than whatever you’re anxious about. It’s always worth it to take the time to cook something nice for yourself.
“I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.” — Anthony Bourdain
I listen to music.
I don’t think my music taste is very notable either, but different artists transport me to different periods of my life.
The sounds of certain artists remind me of periods when things felt harder, simpler, or gentler.
Some sounds remind me of what it was like to be a cranky high school wrestler on a weight cut. Others remind me of what it was like to have my first crush as a junior in high school. Some more recent sounds remind me of what it was like to live in my crappy studio apartment on the north side of Chicago and think I had life “figured out”.
The sounds of the past keep me humble, and when the ego causes me extreme stress, the humility I find through sound is very freeing.
I go to bed.
Sleep is probably the best thing you can do for your body.
Ever since moving to Austin, I’ve stopped using an alarm clock entirely — unless I have to do something early in the day. My entire life is structured around maximizing my sleep because optimal sleep maximizes productivity and happiness.
This makes the crazy day-to-day and often obscene workload I have that much easier to digest.
If you take nothing from this article, take this:
Do everything you can to ensure that you sleep well.
I write stories.
Without writing, the world wouldn’t make very much sense.
The world we have today is built around the sharing of stories. Our society is a series of consensual fictions.
Money is one. Religion is another. “The United States of America” is a third one.
Everything around us (for the most part) is completely made up. It only exists and has value because we all agree that it does.
This can either terrify or excite you. I choose to let it excite me, and I also choose to add my own personal tellings of stories as well. I’ve found this deeply therapeutic when life makes me question everything I think I know.
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