How do you deal with stress?

It’s very difficult to live life entirely without stress. No matter how calm and peaceful one wishes to be, there will always be events in one’s life that test the limits of psychological endurance.

I experience stress on a daily basis, and perhaps much more so this month. As for my methods of dealing with stress, I enjoy music, knowledge, and technology.

Music

Classical and soundtrack music are especially enjoyable for me. I find that they contribute to a calmer emotional state, especially with beautiful orchestral pieces. (See what kind of music I like at Music to Hear.) Listening to the Brandenburg Concertos by Bach, for instance, Ennio Morricone film score, Planet Earth incidental music, or Hans Zimmer’s remarkable compositions, or Karajan’s amazing interpretations, probably bring my mood from stressed out at 8/10 to 3/10. This is one of the reasons that I listen to music while I’m doing work.

Take a look at a video of one of my favourite pieces, conducted by the composer Ennio Morricone at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Learning

TED videos are really inspiring to watch. Whether it’s Al Gore or someone talking about the importance of bread, I find TED to be an absolutely amazing source of inspiration.

Developing knowledge helps to take my mind off pressing matters, at least temporarily. And that’s one of the reasons that I like reading news, reading design blogs and so on.

Humour

FAIL Blog, NotAlwaysRight and FMyLife are all amazing sources of humour. Laughing is probably the easiest way to enjoy oneself for a while.

Today, I got a cross-country job promotion. I decided to plan my Going-Away-Forever party, and bought a pack of 100 invitations. After mailing them out to all my friends, I have 92 left. FML (source)

This keeps me amused, but is by no means as effective as music — after all, I can listen to music while working, and this humour stuff takes away from time I could be putting towards resolving causes of stress.

Et vous?

What do you do to keep your stress at an acceptable level? (You can select multiple answers. Choose any item if it has a soothing / stress-relieving effect for you.)

Declassified: Secret Journal 2

Analyzing Shifts in Human Behaviour

This is supposed to be a private journal entry for a small audience, but since it doesn’t contain too many personal details, I suppose it can be declassified.

Variables in Personality

I suppose it should seem obvious that everyone changes. Every person does change over time, influenced by many factors in their environment, the people with which they frequently interact, the shifts in society, and undoubtedly countless other factors.

For the sake of argument (or, rather, for the sake of this journal), let’s call each personality trait, or characteristic, a variable in personality. For instance, we could then label “music preferences”, “religious/ideological views”, and “political views” as three of the many variables in personality. (Actually, let the term variable take the place of variable in personality, just for the ease of typing this.)

Once we see that these things are indeed variable — in the true sense of the word — we can then understand how one’s behaviour depends on those variables. Perhaps we can even analyze the things upon which those variables depend…

Variables’ Effects

Let’s take the three examples above, of music preferences, religious/ideological/theological views, and political views as the three variables in the personality of person A.

The first observation may be that the second variable, religious/ideological/theological views, can influence both of the other variables. Since this ties into what affects variables, I’ll leave this for the next section.

All right. Music preferences are sure to influence these things in one’s behaviour:

  • Use of time — those who are dedicated to their music are likely to listen to it in multiple occasions (while working, in spare time, etc), and;
  • Use of money — many who are loyal to certain artists or groups end up purchasing multiple works from those artists or groups.

Additionally, some generalizations (with exceptions) may show that musical preferences also influence:

  • Physical appearance & fashion — in some cases, not all, and not most, musical preferences can lead to adaptations in fashion, such as with die-hard fanatics of certain sub-cultures. In other cases, physical appearance & fashion may reflect the same cause as one’s choice of music, such as in the case of “refined” or “cultured” individuals.
  • Thoughts and ideas — once again, this intrudes into the next section about “what influences the variables?”, but it is nevertheless often true that the ideas from a musical piece — such as hip hop, or rap if you consider that to be music — permeate into one’s psyche over time; prolonged exposure to such ideas has a definite impact, unless the person is totally incapable of comprehending the lyrics (if they were in a different language);
  • Actions — in some cases, musical preferences will influence physical actions. For instance, a person who deeply appreciates the saxophone from an early age may grow up to play the instrument. Likewise, a person who deeply appreciates dance music is likely to devote some attention to “dance”. In other cases, it is possible that lyrics of an angry nature can provoke: a) a similar emotion in the listener, or possibly; b) an emotion of the positive nature, where the angry lyrics are a vent for pent-up emotions.

When something as seemingly insignificant as music preferences can influence so many aspects of a person’s life, just imagine what religion does.

Religious/ideological/theological values are sure to influence:

  • Thoughts and ideas — actually, this is a bit of a misleading effect, since those values are thoughts and ideas. In any case, one’s other thoughts and ideas are sure to derive some logic from their beliefs;
  • Actions — if one’s values include non-aggression, surely one’s actions will be controlled by those thoughts; if one’s values consist of the propagation of their values, it is likewise likely that one will attempt to convince others of their beliefs; if one is a devout evangelical Christian, it is very likely that they will lead lives as dictated by the Bible (or those who interpret it)

Additionally, some examples show that religious/ideological/theological values are often applied to other aspects of life:

  • Use of time — I have rarely encountered a person devoted to their faith who does not spend considerable time developing or spreading their faith; however, if one’s values are much less religious in nature, and more ideological — for instance, if one is supports abortion on scientific grounds — it is nevertheless possible that one does not devote much of one’s time to promoting one’s cause

EDIT: Visit the Part II article to read more.