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My Top 12 Favorite Stress-Relieving Activities | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 035

My Top 12 Favorite Stress-Relieving Activities | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 035

Stress is one of the few certainties of life, alongside death and taxes. And while “good stress” is one of the most effective ways to grow, “bad stress” plays a hand in almost every disease, illness, and injury you get. 

But don’t worry—there are simple activities you can do on a daily and weekly basis to curtail stress from consuming your mental (and physical) health. 

In fact, I have 12 favorite stress-relieving activities that don’t take a ton of time, but provide an immense sense of relief to both your body and mind.

In this episode, I reveal what my 12 favorite stress-relieving activities are, so you can enjoy the cool, calm, and collected sense of relaxation yourself. 

Ready to melt away your stress and improve your mental health? Listen now. 

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Watch a Clip From Episode 035

My Top 12 Favorite Stress-Relieving Activities | Ep. 35

Episode 035 Highlights

  • How waking up 15-30 minutes earlier minimizes your stress for the entire day (4:18)
  • 3 simple “Mindful Morning” movements for relaxing your mind and body and boosting your focus before starting your day (5:37)
  • Why organizing your day on a notecard raises your productivity and happiness (7:58)
  • How to decompress after a stressful day by simply sitting in silence (10:46)
  • The “Mindful Eating” trick which refocuses you better in the afternoon than a steaming cup of coffee (13:13)
  • How cleaning or organizing your house instantly melts stress from your shoulders (15:40)
  • The single biggest morning mistake which creates unnecessary stress and overwhelm for the entire day (18:58)
Episode 035: My Top 12 Favorite Stress-Relieving Activities | Dean Pohlman – Transcript

Hey, guys, it’s Dean. Welcome to the Better Man podcast. This is a solo episode in which I will be discussing stress relieving activities. So these are behaviors that I do on a regular basis to help with relieving stress. And I thought a lot about this episode. And I do want to clarify that the practices I’m going to outline here are things that I personally do to manage and relieve my stress. And it’s not going to be guidelines and personal philosophies that this is different from guidelines and personal philosophies that I utilize to create less stress. So it’s kind of things that I do to relieve stress versus guidelines and behaviors that I’ve adopted so that I have less overall stress. So this episode is going to focus on stress relief activities, and I think this is going to be really helpful for you.

Obviously, it would be impossible to eliminate stress from your entire life, and it would you know, you don’t want to do that. Stress is a good thing. We just want to make sure that it comes in appropriate doses. But there are definitely great ways to deal with stress. So this episode is going to focus on those practices and those daily regular habits that I use to make sure that stress doesn’t creep up and overwhelm me.

I’m going to be doing another solo episode later on about how I structure my day and just certain guidelines, behaviors that I use to make sure that I’m not creating an unnecessary amount of stress in my life. And that includes things like how I approach the start of my day, my work habits and work schedule, and little micro habits like breathing and checking in with myself throughout the day.

So and then I’m also looking forward a little bit more. I also want to do a 2022 to recap episode with my personal biggest lessons from 2022. And I think those are going to be really helpful and inspiring for you as well. But for now, let’s stick with stress relief and stress management and what are some activities that I do regularly to. Number one, manage my stress. So things that I do because I know that they will help me reduce overall stress levels. And then also relieving stress things that, you know, when I feel overwhelmed, I notice that I’m not thinking or acting up to my usual standards. What are some activities that I kind of rely on?

And then I do want to mention that a big part of this is knowing yourself. So understanding what types of activities work well for you versus activities that don’t work well for you. You know, some some things are going to be really helpful. Like for me, for example, I’m going to get into this in a little bit, but, you know, doing some solitude, morning solitude, is really important for me. Exercising is really helpful for my mental space.

I also like making a daily to do lists, setting expectations for my day. But some people aren’t as organized as I am, and some people are more organized. So you have to understand yourself. And then the other part of that is testing activities to see what works well. And some of these activities will provide an immediate improvement in your overall stress. And some of them have more of a compound effect where you need to do them for, you know, days, weeks or sometimes even months to really notice them, notice them working. So there we go.

All right. I’m going to go through, start off, by going through my daily practices that I do to relieve stress. So first off is morning solitude. This is something that’s really important to me. I live with my wife and my son and two dogs. My son is about two and a half now. And so if I wait to get up, if I wake, if I wait until I have to get up in order to get up, I kind of start my day and fight or flight mode because I’m just running around trying to make breakfast while also taking care of my toddler and, you know, doing whatever my wife needs to do as well. So it’s really tough if I just wake up and go to that. So what’s really helpful for me is getting up just a little bit earlier, maybe 30 minutes, 15 minutes, and then having some time to go through kind of my morning routine, which is drinking my water, getting the dog food, getting breakfast ready, maybe cleaning up the kitchen a little bit. But just just getting out and being on my own for a while, reminding myself that I can slow down and I can breathe and be mindful and how I go about doing things. That’s really important for making sure that I start my day, relax, instead of jumping straight into a stressful morning.

Second big part of my my daily practices that I do for my mental wellbeing is taking time to move, taking time for stretching and taking time for a morning walk. I’ll give you an example from today. So I, I woke up and I had enough time to do my morning you know, kitchen organization that I, that I do in the morning. So I was able to, to get breakfast ready to feed the dogs, to make my smoothie, to kind of clean up a little bit. And, but then I had a little discovery. I found out that my car had been broken into. Totally my fault. I left the door unlocked. There is a gate, but apparently that did nothing. So I watch the video later on. The guy had pretty good fitness jumped the fence, no problem. Checked the doors, ended up not taking that much. But the point of that anyways is that my morning was kind of thrown off and so I spent most of my morning kind of dealing with that, you know?

So I was doing things like, OK, well, we need to get a security light put in and I need to call the police and file a report. So all of these things that kind of broke up my morning and you know, now it’s about it’s about 2:00 in the afternoon and I’m recording this and I feel a lot more stress than I normally would have because I was doing all of these kind of putting out all these fires, doing things that required more immediate attention instead of taking time for myself to stretch and do my movement and go on a walk.

Normally when I do this, I’m much more focused throughout the day. I feel less stressed I am more productive. I get more I’m getting more done. And and yeah. So, you know, skipping this because of the unfortunate events of the early morning, it has a noticeable impact on my stress levels. So normally I do make time and it takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to do that, that stretching and that mindful movement. But a big part of that is, is solitude while I’m doing it, making sure that I’m not on my phone and making sure that I’m not on my phone, that I’m not watching something that I’m not, you know, interrupted And also being really mindful of my movement and my breathing when I’m doing that.

So anyways, some other practices I do something that I do every day is I make a little notecard for myself and I write out things that I need to do that day. And I find that creating that structure for my day kind of setting expectations for what’s going to get done, what’s realistic, what’s coming up on my calendar, this enables me to establish control over my day. And there have been plenty of studies done that show that the more perceived control you have over your life, the happier you are. So for me, this know card, this kind of mapping out the day, setting expectations, it helps me establish this sense of control and it does really help me out with relieving my stress. So instead of going into the day kind of thinking, Oh, what am I going to do today? Oh, I’ve checked my email, oh, what’s going on over here? What’s going on over here? I kind of review everything in the morning. I look at, you know, where did I leave off last week or yesterday? What’s the plan for the week? What did I accomplished yesterday? Is there something in my inbox that I need you take care of? Is there something on Slack that needs to be addressed?

So instead of going to those one by one throughout the day, I, I do it all in the morning and then I’m able to figure out, OK, here’s what needs to get done today. I’ve looked at everything, took on kind of a global look at all my different, you know, media and this is what I need to do. So that’s something that’s really helpful for stress relief for me.

And then we kind of move into the, the, there’s other things but evening. So a big part of my evening is just kind of this evening solitude or mindfulness practice. You have more mindfulness in the morning and in the evening kind of as the day goes on, you, you lose mindfulness, especially in the afternoon, you start to become less mindful because other things have just popped up. You’re not you just not being as mindful. So keep that in mind when you’re thinking about how you want to structure your day. You have more mindfulness in the morning and then maybe a bit more in the evening, later evening as well. So for me, at night and this happens after my wife has gone to bed and after, you know, our son has been put to bed, I spend some time on my own.

And this could be and it’s and I say mindful activity because that means that I’m not scrolling through my phone. I’m not watching TV you know, I’m not doing something. I’m, I’m either… I’m either I’m in a space where I can kind of listen to my own thoughts. So that could be journaling that could be going on a walk with the dogs that could be doing some easy stretching or foam rolling, if that’s what I want to do. Or it could just be sitting sitting in silence. I wouldn’t call it meditating because I’m not actively practicing you know, awareness of my mind, but it is just me sitting and it is just me kind of sitting and letting those thoughts go until hopefully they run out. You know, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s kind of if you’ve ever meditated before, I think what the course one of the coolest first things that happens when you when you been meditating for a while or just sitting and thinking whatever you want to call it for a while is that you do it enough. And then all of a sudden you realize, oh, there’s nothing going on in my head right now. This is wonderful. That voice in my said, that voice in my head has stopped.

So for me anyways, that’s a that’s that’s great. If that can happen but the point for me is that I need to spend at least 10 minutes and sometimes 20 or 30 minutes on my own at night before I go to bed. Just kind of letting my mind process things, letting the chatter kind of die down and you have to be distraction free in order to do that. But that is something that is incredibly important for me and it’s something that’s really easy to do. You don’t have to be in a particular environment in order to do that. I used to have to do that, quote unquote, have to do that on my porch.

I had this beautiful screen and porch on the house where I used to live here. We haven’t put in a porch yet. We haven’t put in the screen. So I end up just doing it in my living room one night and I was like, Oh, this is fine. So there really is not a huge excuse for not being able to to find a space and sit down and be with your thoughts.

So anyways, that’s something that for me, I do that probably six times per week. There might be one night where I miss it if I’m really tired or something, but that’s something that’s really important for me and mindful solitude in general. This is something that’s that’s really important for me. I find that this is for me, this is like, my big stress relief that and staying active throughout the day, staying active throughout the day and also being so doing one thing at once. So avoiding multitasking.

And I’ll talk about that in that next podcast episode because this is going to stay focused on stress relief. But I did I felt like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that and then something that I think is helpful, you know, if you’re if it’s the mid-afternoon or maybe if it’s the morning, you’re just having kind of an unproductive day and you know, you’re notice that you’re opening up tabs way more than tabs, open up, opening up other tabs on the Internet or you’re not able to stay focused on one thing that’s when I will kind of I’ll reset myself. So I will realize, OK, I’m not getting things done. I’m not focused. I need to do something to relieve stress to kind of ground on myself. And so that’s when I’ll go to, you know, a mindful activity like I discussed just just previously maybe I’ll just go have some food and I’ll eat slowly without my phone. But if I do notice that, I’ll go for a walk or I’ll do some light stretching.

But I am conscious of when I realize that I’m not I’m not focused and I try to remove myself from that situation and do something mindful in order to kind of reset. I find that, you know, just banging your head against the wall repeatedly when you’re trying to get something done and it’s not happening isn’t an effective way of getting something done. And so I do try to change up my mindset when I realize that’s happening.

And this is this is something that’s also cool to mention is something that’s been really helpful for me recently. Has been just being more mindful of when that occurs. And I ask myself, hey, is this like, is what I’m doing right now worth my time? And then if the answer is no, I will I will ask myself, Hey, well, why are you doing it? And sometimes, you know, it’s important enough that I will say, OK, yeah, I’ll I’ll keep doing it because this is important. But sometimes I realize that this is just something that I feel like I have to get done or I should get done rather than something that actually needs to get done. And then I’ll say, OK, well, why don’t you stop? And sometimes I’ll say, Oh, you’re yeah, you’re right. I’ll stop. You’re right, Dean. You’re right, Dean. Voice, voice in your head. Dean, I’ll stop doing this. And sometimes I won’t stop. But I think it is important to mention that just having the awareness to question kind of the autopilot of what you’re doing, that is the first step in changing behavior when you realize that you’re not doing something the way that you want to do it.

And the last thing I’ll mention is a specific activity that I personally use cleaning or organizing. For me, this is something that’s been really helpful for me when I noticed that I’m lacking mindfulness. So if I’m stressed, if I can’t focus also having a clutter free environment or an environment that you feel comfortable being in in order to minimize stress, this is something that I this is something cleaning is something that I will do when I notice that I’m stressed because I think there is a lot of merit to having an organized a clean workspace, especially if I feel like maybe I just had too much caffeine that day, or maybe I’m just feeling a little, you know, a little a little frantic or a little anxious. So I do find that cleaning and organizing is a useful tool for that.

However, there does come a point in this cleaning or organizing process where you realize that you’re doing this as an escape instead of doing what you’re supposed to do. So so what I’ve done, what I do here is I use the physical activity of cleaning or organizing as kind of a transition or a transitory activity that helps me move from this mental place where I’m feeling more anxious and more overwhelmed. And then a few minutes into that activity, I realize, OK, I’m I’m more mindful now. I have better focus. The chatter in my brain isn’t what it was before. And then I’ll go back to something that’s more productive. It is easy to kind of overdo the overwrite the organization or the cleaning. So so again, for me, what I like to do is I kind of like to remove myself from the cleaning or the organizing activity when I realize that my head has gotten to a better space so that’s something that you can do.

And if you like cleaning and organizing, if that’s something that you can do, that’s great activity for you for helping with with kind of reset you know, centering yourself or resetting yourself. And if you hate cleaning, then, then don’t do that.

So, all right. I’m going to talk about things to avoid for stress but I do want to give a quick shout out to our sponsor, Rhone, Rhone Men’s Activewear. I’ve been a proud official brand ambassador for almost a year now. If you watched a video of me on social media, you probably seen Rhone. They are present in all of my workout videos. They’ve also launched a work appropriate line of clothing called Commuter which I absolutely love because I do dress up from time to time, but I hate the feeling of dress clothes and these the commuter pants, this commuter shirt, they’re actually like stretchy workout material.

So I can bend down and squat. I can reach my arms overhead. I can do everything that I want to do and feel comfortable, but still look formal. So I do have a special link in the description of this podcast episode. You can check that out, click on that, and that’ll apply 15% off[Editor’s note: it’s 20% actually] your order automatically. So have yourself a ball. Go do some online shopping and get some Rhone gear.

All right, back to our episode. So things to avoid for stress. And these are just things that I’ve found really helpful. But the first big thing is looking at your phone too early in the morning. If you’re a fan of Ryan Holiday, he talks about this and I’m sure a lot of other people talk about this. But if you look at your phone, you kind of your phone will dictate the day for you. You know, that’s where your emails are. That’s where social media is. So I like to make sure that I do stuff on my own for checking my phone, gives me time to, you know, establish some wins for the day, like, oh, I made my smoothie, I made my coffee, I made my breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, got Declan to daycare. Cool. This is all. Oh, I did my morning workout. Great. This is all awesome. And then instead of coming to your phone and being like, oh, my whole day is ruined, you come to your phone, you’re like, Oh, OK. Well, I’ve done all these other great things for myself and this one email that I got that I didn’t want to get doesn’t feel so bad anymore.

Other things to avoid is notifications of any kind on your phone. You know, I don’t have any notifications on my phone to the point that my my wife is very mad at me because she’ll call and I don’t pick up. Just because I have changed that, I have realized that I need to have my phone on, especially since having a child. But but yeah, I don’t have any notifications for apps on my phone. In fact, I don’t have any social media apps on my, on my phone at all. I’ve delete them from my phone if I need to post something, I will download the app, post something, but then I’ll delete it shortly after that. So oddly enough, I’m going through my list of things to avoid for stress. Most of them have to do with with my phone.

And then the third thing is avoiding your phone at night. You definitely don’t want to have your phone at night, an hour or so leading up, leading to bed, especially if you’re just absentmindedly scrolling on your phone. It’s it really prevents you from prevents you from me. It prevents me from experiencing that mindfulness that I need to that I need to practice, whether that’s in those things that I talked about before, stretching, journaling, just sitting and thinking, meditating. It prevents me from having that mindfulness that I need in order to wind down and have a good night of sleep. So your phone is your phone is like an anti mindfulness tool. So that’s going to cause stress. So yeah, get off your phone.

And then the other thing is that I wrote down here is just shying away from problems. So, you know, if there’s something that you’re dreading doing, I find that it’s, it’s don’t keep putting it off, just deal with it. Get to the root of it, even if it means you have to put off some other things. But, you know, deal with your problems. It’s going to be uncomfortable in the moment, but it’s going to feel a lot better afterwards, hopefully.

Weekly practices. Some other things that I wanted to mention here. I talked about journaling before. Journaling for me isn’t a daily practice. It’s I would say it’s on good weeks. It’s anywhere from two to three times per week, maybe four times per week. But I find that if I’m as long as I’m doing it with that consistency, that the chatter in my head is is lower than it usually is.

One thing that I’ve been doing since I want to say 20, maybe 2019 or 2018 is I have been I’ve been meeting with a psychologist on a weekly basis for an hour, once per week, and, and during these sessions I really focus on things that are uncomfortable to talk about because I know that those are the things that I need to work through in order to help my overall happiness, my mental wellness.

I find that, you know, if you, if you have a therapist, if you do this, it’s really easy to complain. It’s just it’s really easy to just spend your hour just complaining about everything that’s going on in your life, but ultimately not very productive not to say you shouldn’t complain. You know, sometimes I’ll spend the first 20 minutes complaining, but then we’ll get into OK, well, why does this bother you so much? You know? So using this as a tool to help better understand myself and to and to get to the, the, the root issues of problems it’s really helpful. So I’m a I’m a big proponent of therapy. It’s, it’s definitely been helpful for me. So I’ve got the journaling. I’ve got my, my weekly therapy. And yeah, that’s those are those are the most of the practices for me when it comes to lowering my overall stress.

There are there are a bunch of other things that that I could talk about that help with overall stress reduction so that’s some of what I will talk about in the next solo episode, two weeks from now solitude for me being mindful protecting my time recognizing my personal preferences meaning that I am an introvert, I am not extroverted so I am not going to load up my schedule with like 8 hours of phone calls and zoom calls per day because I would go nuts. Turning off notifications, focusing on one task at a time.

These are all things that are really, really, really important for me to to to having a lower baseline of stress. And the things that I just talked about now are things that that I consider more stress relief activities. One other activity I will mention for a weekly practice, I find that doing a really nice long yoga session on my own where I go like 75 minutes because I don’t have time to do that every day. Most of my yoga sessions are 20 to 30 minutes and then I will spend, you know, ten or 15 minutes warming up for a workout with some muscle activation focused yoga kind of stuff that you would see in the strength foundations course at Man Flow Yoga. But I don’t, you know, I don’t do like an hour and a half of yoga every day.

But I do find that making time for one nice long 60 to 75 minute yoga session once per week is really good for my mental wellbeing. The stretching is great because I’ll get in some stretches that I feel like I have neglected. But the big benefit there for me is the mindfulness practice, just being super present, putting on some music, really paying attention to the movements kind of at the same time mentally processing things that have been that had been bugging me for the week.

So that’s something that I find really helpful and I highly recommend that as well. I do have some longer, you know, hour long sessions. We have The Fix series, which is more intense than a restorative yoga session but it’s still going to achieve that same end goal of feeling nice and stretched out, but also kind of recentering yourself entirely. So the fix series is awesome for that and we do have more of those fixed series workouts coming out over the next few months. We are to have about nine. I think there’s another one coming out soon anyways.

So there so guys, I hope you found this episode useful again. I’ve got.. two weeks from now we’re going to be doing another solo episode and in that one I am going to be talking about certain guidelines and behaviors that I use to keep my stress levels low. So just personal philosophies, things like that that I that I do throughout the day or things that I have, the way that I have structured my life in order to minimize stress. And again, I didn’t want to make that different from this episode, which is more focused on stress relieving activities.

So guys, if you found this useful, if you find this podcast useful, please leave a review in the Apple podcast, a five star review, and tell me something that you liked about the episode. I don’t think we’ve actually had a written review in a long time. I’ve seen more reviews come in. We are at 84 reviews right now, but I haven’t seen any written reviews in a while. So if you want to be mentioned or shout it out, write a write a written review and then I will and then I’ll read that out.

You can also review it on Spotify as well. So. All right, guys, thanks for listening. I hope you found this useful and I hope it inspires you to be a better man. I will see you guys on the next episode. Bye bye.


If you’ve watched a video of me on social media or in the Man Flow Yoga portal, you’ve seen me proudly wearing Rhone’s Activewear Gear. Rhone creates the best activewear apparel — and they even introduced a new line of dress clothes that are, hands down, the most comfortable dresswear I’ve worn. Want to try Rhone’s clothing yourself? Save 20% on your order by going to https://manflowyoga.com/rhone

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