A.M. in the P.M. – Lesson in Decompression

Alex Hounchell

Alex M. Hounchell

Human beings are a lot like springs; if you twist them or compress them, it is possible for them to be weakened.

People are no different. If you continue to stress yourself out by being pressed and bent in different directions, it will eventually weaken your abilities all together.

I can attest to the feeling of being overwhelmed. Sometimes, I take on more than I can handle or more than my abilities actually allow me to accomplish at all.

In these moments, I’m reminded that mentality is like a muscle. You have to continue to work on it, if you wish to get stronger.

Even so, it is important to give your brain, your body, your muscles and your mentality those days of rest. The days of rest allow you to recuperate and then you can start backup at full throttle.

Working through your high stress may seem like the correct thing to do at the time, since it is actively happening in the moment. Do not forget that stress has added physical symptoms, making decompression seem like a better choice. High stress causes acute insomnia for example, which will make it hard in the long run to finish a big project.

Over time, running on high stress will cause you to lose energy, and become generally lethargic. This again, will make it difficult to do your work. High stress has also been known to lower immune system.

Additionally, stress can have negative consequences for your emotional stability. It can cause low self-esteem and general agitation.

This means that decompression could be called a form of therapy, as it allows the stress inside of your body to be softened. In this way, decompressing is a subset of work. Going to the movies, playing a videogame, going to a dance club or drinking an entire two-liter of ginger ale are a part of working.

Decompression is like washing your hands after going to the bathroom or washing dishes after cooking and eating dinner. It is even like doing laundry. You have to get rid of the clutter like the dirty clothes or dishes to be able to move on. Once the cleanup is done for a task, it makes it easier to move on to new things.

Continuing to allow dirty dishes to pile up in the sink, on top of being a nuisance, will cause stress. At the same time, if everything you need to accomplish takes up all of your energy, then at some point you have nothing left to give.

Though I wouldn’t call doing dishes fun, I do believe decompression is necessary and part of the end step of any type of work. Consider it next time you finish a paper, just to see if it is refreshing.