I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man, but nothing winds me up more than people saying, ‘Chill out’ to me when I’m irritated! —Martin Freeman
Like many people my age, I have to deal with high blood pressure. Medically, there are a lot of reasons for having blood-pumping issues: our lifestyles being hectic, our diets being too high in sodium, and a general fear that we might die without having accomplished enough. There are plenty of things that would probably solve all but the worst of blood pressure problems without medication, but that would require we actually alter how we live rather dramatically. We’re not likely to do that, being the stubborn folk that we are, so the doctor gives us pills that try to force our blood pressure back down to a manageable level that won’t kill us quite so quickly.
The pills don’t always work, though. The doctor has increased the strength of my medication twice before and I’m still generating systolic and diastolic readings that are far too high to be safe. Kat keeps telling me I need to chill. She makes it sound so easy. She makes it look so easy. Just “chill.” She drinks coffee and relaxes. I drink coffee and feel the need to take a thousand new pictures. She sees something stupid in her news feed and ignores it. I see something stupid in my news feed and am ready to rip someone’s head off their shoulders. I am so very much not chill.
About a month ago, Forbes magazine published a story Finding Chill in Valparaíso, Chile. The article contains beautiful photos full of the color and culture of this relatively small Chilean city. The author talks about his hotel with hammocks on the roof, the delicious yet inexpensive food, and stray dogs that will walk you home at night (not kidding). Everything in the article sounds so wonderful that I was almost ready to pack my bags and go, until the author discloses that, while there, he tripped on a seawall and broke his leg in two places. That’s a risk I can’t take. Scratch Chile off my travel list.
It seems obvious that I need to go somewhere to chill. Indianapolis is definitely not a chill type of city. We get uptight about almost everything around here. With the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 this year, the entire neighborhood around us is anything but chill. But with Valparaíso off the list, where should I go?
Back in 2010, Forbes also published a list of the most relaxed cities in America. The twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul topped the list. They won because they have short commute times, get plenty of exercise, and had good insurance. Note, this survey took place before the Affordable Care Act took affect so that last detail might have changed. Looking through the other cities on the list, Milwaukee, Portland, Seattle, Denver, San Jose, it seems to me that all those cities have experienced some significant change in the past six years. Political changes have ruined Wisconsin. Portland’s population of hipsters has exploded. Seattle has become one of the most expensive cities in the country. Denver won a Super Bowl. San Jose’s Silicon Valley has experienced a lot of employment upheaval while real estate prices soared. Not seeing a number of benefits there.
Music is supposed to help people chill, right? According to the British Academy of Sound Therapy, the song Weightless is the best choice to help people chill. In fact, the song is apparently so effective one some people that the scientists involved in the study recommend that one not drive while listening to the piece. The song, which was specifically composed for this study. starts at 60 beats per minute and gradually slows to 50. I tried listening. I made it about 30 seconds before wanting to shoot something. Weightless has no freaking melody! It’s just electronic noise with carefully constructed pulsing.
From what I can tell, if one is going to master the art of being chill, they need to successfully do the following:
- Live somewhere inexpensive. Paying a lot of bills or not being able to afford food is stressful.
- Exercise. Being able to get out and walk without getting killed seems to be a plus.
- Have friendly neighbors. You know, the kind that don’t fire weapons indiscriminately in the middle of the night.
- Consume fresh food that is easily accessible. Having stores within walking distance helps (hint, hint).
- Enjoy live, non-sedentary entertainment. I’m not sure whether Netflix and chill counts or not.
- Have something constructive to do that you enjoy and provides sufficient income. Stressful jobs are inherently chill killers.
- Don’t over-commit your time. Saying “no” and not feeling guilty about staying home helps.
- Avoid toxic people. That friend who is constantly inducing drama? Ditch ’em.
- Sleep more. Not getting enough rest is one of the primary causes of stress.
Anyone who can successfully do those things can master the art of being chill.
I’m probably going to die.