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Future Thriving: Wisdom – detachment part 2: the stress management equation

In part 1, I introduced you to detachment and offered various resources to read further about this theme. Here, I look at detachment and stress. 1 in 4 people suffer from depression, including the person on the street, the CEO or senior partner, lonely whilst visibly

at the top of their game.

The Mental Health Foundation reported in 2016 that “nearly half (43.4%) of adults think that they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life (35.2% of men and 51.2% of women). A fifth of men (19.5%) and a third of women (33.7%) have had diagnoses confirmed by professionals.” This is in a time when we have access to more and more material things and more and more opportunities to spend money. It is a time for greater competition and comparison with peers, friends, family. It is surely also a time for greater introspection.

As one guru has quoted “intelligence is up but happiness and wisdom are down.” We risk having a generation of children growing up into adults who are unable to make effective decisions; truly, effective decisions.

Based on the statistics above, you are likely to know someone in your team or social circle that has suffered from stress, anxiety and/or depression. Most likely, they are putting on a brave face. Perhaps it is you that is putting on the brave face of silent depression.

In the workplace, this is tough. I have been there. I was so stressed in a previous career, and later had a life changing traumatic experience but I kept going. I put on the smile, I carried out my tasks, I networked, I travelled. But I felt almost zombie like inside. My mind was full of traffic, self-inflicted thoughts and worries I did not then know how to remove. I was stressed. Affectionate detachment can help.

I like how one guru has put it:

Stress = External Pressure (not in your hands)

Internal Strength (potentially very much in your hands)

If your stress level, based on work or other people out of your control, is a 10 and you have not worked on stress management techniques and your inner strength is 2, the equation looks like this: 10/2

Your stress is at 5.

Now, what if your internal strength is 5 because you consistently work on techniques such as mindfulness, journaling, self-care, exercise and so on? The equation becomes: 10/5

Your stress is at 2. It is reduced.

Accordingly, here are the choices:

1) Change the external pressure (for example, change jobs, move away,) if realistic; this is potentially more cumbersome and, in some cases, impossible as we cannot change other people who are the source of stress. We cannot control these.

2) Change the stress level by learning techniques that work uniquely for you. This, you can control.

If you cannot control the external situation or people around you, what do you notice is in your hands? You choose what you want your life to look like from this moment. Gently allow yourself to step back from those unhelpful things encroaching on your happiness.

Affectionately detach from material things too, whilst practicing techniques and lifestyle changes that create more balance for you.

How do you develop stress management skills and inner resilience?

The Science of Wellbeing course, delivered by Professor Laurie Santos, highlights how we think things (that we sub-consciously and consciously place attachment on) such as luxuries, comforts, an expensive car and huge house will make us happy but, in reality, research shows that these things do not create sustained happiness. The attachment may come from learned behaviours as you have seen others (throughout your life) emotionally “attach” to possessions and place huge importance on them. In your experience, has the car created sustained inner happiness? What about your favourite trip, how did that impact your happiness and what do feel thinking about it again now? Is the happiness more intense? Did you smile to yourself recollecting that favourite trip?

Allow yourself to 1) learn to detach from “things” emotionally or 2) make a personal agreement with yourself for a balance between healthy attachment or affectionate detachment.

It is the self-management of one’s inner journey that increases happiness and wellbeing.

If you can focus on your mental thoughts and learn to choose how to manage them, this helps to balance stress and intense or difficult emotions. The mind will wander – this is normal – and you just need to allow yourself to gently guide it back to the thoughts that are more helpful. I found this difficult when I embarked on this myself over 20 years ago but, with daily consistent trying, you can get there. At least try – that is action. With practice, you can manage your mind, your happiness and effectively make great decisions that impact your present and future life.

Important note 1: Try. This may be uncomfortable and uneasy but try - that is taking action.

Important note 2: You have time. Your mind will say you do not, but you have 1 minute. I promise you have 1 minute. In time, you choose to extend this.

Here are some proven tools that may help enhance your stress management, promote detachment, encourage presence and build inner resilience:

1, Mindful breathing

2, Mindful activity of your choice

3, exercise that suits you, that you find enjoyment or reward in

4, noticing what you liked about yourself daily (perhaps helping a colleague, making a tea for your partner, helping a child with some studies, driving calmly in traffic and so on)

5, affirmations

6, Consciously tell yourself, ideally daily, that you choose to have greater [balance][peace][inner patience][your words] in your life through affectionate detachment from material luxuries (I am not saying you cannot have these, just to invite the possibility of being less attached to them)

7, re-identifying authentically what you want from your life and your work, and perhaps your place in the world.

To learn more about this topic and tools to implement in your life, contact me at

Do you still feel there is no time for you to invest in practicing stress management? Usain Bolt is famously known for winning 9 gold medals in3 Olympics – he was on the track for no more than 115 in each race. He takes home about $120million. He himself is also renowned for saying that he earned this money, not based on his seconds on the racetrack but based on his 20 years of practicing. That is what led to results. I invite you to ponder on this little story and explore any insights that come up for you and your life.

Finally, let’s work together as a community to increase happiness and wellbeing. Through a collective effort to practice tools that helps towards affectionate detachment and stress management, we can better manage difficult emotions, tough situations and our lives.

I’d like to be by your side. Connect with me at


Disclaimer: The article, nor the author, represents medical expert guidance and the information provided is solely for information purposes. It does not equate to medical, psychological, or other advice but is the view of the author based on research, application and experience only.

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