Change your state, change your day.
3 simple things you can do on a daily basis to help control your state.
Our state - happy, sad, anxious, excited, etc - changes throughout the day. Some days it may only change a little bit and some days it may feel like a roller coaster. On the roller coaster days, we get an up close look at the importance of state and the impact it has on the way we lead our lives.
The outcomes of meetings depend on our state.
The outcomes of conversations depend on our state.
Our intrinsic motivation depends on our state.
Our joy depends on our state.
And ultimately, our overall satisfaction with life depends on our ability to navigate and control our state.
Mercifully, our state is malleable. With just a little poking and prodding, our state will change to something that's productive, healthy, and beneficial to us if we just carve out a little time to get it there.
These are the 3 things I do to help control my state on a daily basis.
Practice breath work. The breath has been used for thousands of years for overall health and happiness. And I've found it to be the single best tool for changing state in my own life. There's an endless array of breath work options out there, so I'll simply highlight the ones I use regularly:
Wim Hof - I do this first thing when I wake up and last thing before I go to bed. It helps anchor my day and is my true breath work "practice." There are countless Wim Hof videos for free on YouTube, or you can download the Wim Hof app.
Resonant breathing - This is an amazing tool for calming yourself before a meeting, before the kids get home, etc. It slows your breath down, enabling you to regulate your nervous system and improve your heart rate variability. I use a simple app on my phone called The Breathing App, which includes a breathing bubble to follow along with.
Komuso - This is a necklace based on an ancient Japanese breathing practice of blowing through a straw to slow down and elongate your exhale. The benefits are similar to resonant breathing, and the convenience of having a breathing tool hanging around your neck is amazing. I use it in the car and at my desk, throughout the day.
Take a cold shower. If you're not sick of people talking about cold showers already, give it a few years, because the recent science is starting to pile up. Controlled cold exposure will make you feel superhuman, and the benefits to your immune system and overall mental health are numerous. Start with a minute of cold at the end of a normal hot shower. It should be cold enough to take your breath away. Breathe deeply through it. It's just one minute.
Once you're comfortable with one minute cold showers, you can increase the time to two minutes, then three, etc. And if you really want to jump in with both feet, there are several options for at-home cold plunges. I have a stock tank in my backyard that's filled with water and ice, and I plunge for 3-6 minutes each day.
Get outside. Let nature center you. Ditch the headphones and go on a short walk. If you can't do that, stand outside and bask in whatever sun there is. Listen to the birds. Watch the squirrels chase each other. There are material health benefits to being outside, but beyond that, it's incredibly helpful to remind ourselves that we're a part of nature, not separate from it. The bird isn't anxious about work. The squirrel isn't worried about what the other squirrels think of him. That doesn't make our responsibilities any less real. But it does help put them in perspective.
Nearly every part of our day is outside of our control. And most often, it's the things outside of our control that can derail our day and our state.
But that doesn't mean we don't have agency over them. Getting outside, getting in some cold water, being intentional with our breath. These are practices that have stood the test of time, yet are uniquely useful in today's modern world.
And the best part? They're all free and readily accessible. You just have to start.