In his insightful book "Chatter," psychologist Ethan Kross unveils strategies to navigate through mental distress effectively. Drawing from Kross's work, this article presents practical advice to soothe your mind during times of discomfort.

Transforming Your Environment

One potent method to shift your mental state is by changing your surroundings. Kross explains that our physical environments profoundly influence our psychological well-being, impacting our thoughts and emotions. He suggests that by making deliberate choices about our engagement with our surroundings, we can guide our internal dialogues in a healthier direction. The idea here isn't novel — our emotions vary significantly from being at the seaside to sitting in an office. However, the crux lies in recognizing the excessive time many of us spend in monotonous settings and the importance of actively seeking new environments for our mental well-being.

The Splendor of Nature

Numerous studies corroborate the psychological benefits of immersing oneself in nature. Research indicates that a 90-minute nature stroll can diminish activity in brain regions associated with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. While daily expeditions into the wilderness may not be feasible for everyone, it's crucial to integrate nature into our lives somehow. If direct access to natural landscapes is limited, even engaging with nature through images or videos can be beneficial. Nature not only offers a respite but also the chance to experience awe — a profound sense of wonderment that elevates our perception beyond personal concerns, according to Kross. Experiences of awe, whether through natural beauty, art, or witnessing human achievements, can mute the brain's tendencies towards negative introspection.

Decluttering for Clarity

Another strategy to regain emotional balance is by organizing our physical spaces. Kross suggests that creating order in our surroundings can provide comfort by simplifying our navigation through life, making it more predictable. The act of decluttering, supported by both new research and anecdotal evidence, not only enhances our living spaces but can also offer immediate relief during stressful moments. Moreover, it's crucial to remember that decluttering isn't limited to our physical environments; clearing our minds is equally vital. A brief meditation practice can serve as an effective tool for mental decluttering, offering a refreshed perspective and a sense of calm.

Harnessing the Power of Breathing Exercises

A fourth pivotal strategy in the quest for mental serenity is engaging in breathing exercises. Rooted in centuries-old practices, these techniques have been scientifically validated for their capacity to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Breathing exercises act as a bridge, connecting the mind and body, and offer an immediate method for calming the nervous system. Ethan Kross, while not specifically addressing this in "Chatter," would likely acknowledge the complementary nature of breathing exercises to the psychological tools he proposes.

Breathwork as a Tool for Emotional Regulation

Breathwork, or the practice of conscious breathing, is a powerful tool for emotional regulation. Techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, or box breathing can be easily learned and practiced anywhere, requiring no special equipment. These methods work by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the "rest and digest" system, which counters the body's stress response. The simplicity of focusing on the rhythm of your breath can also help redirect your mind from negative thoughts or worries, bringing your attention back to the present moment.

You can try engaging in a breathing practice right now with his one-minute guided breathing practice designed for relaxation and stress relief:

Scientific Backing and Accessibility

The beauty of breathing exercises lies in their scientific backing and accessibility. Research has shown that regular practice can improve heart rate variability, a marker of stress resilience, and reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Moreover, breathing exercises can be seamlessly integrated into daily routines, providing a readily available resource for managing stressors as they arise. Whether you're preparing for a stressful event, winding down before bed, or needing a moment of calm during a busy day, a few minutes of focused breathing can make a significant difference.

Incorporating breathing exercises into your daily self-care routine can enhance the effectiveness of the strategies outlined by Ethan Kross. By dedicating time each day to practice mindful breathing, you establish a habit that fortifies your mental health and augments your ability to navigate life's ups and downs. This commitment to breathwork is not just about combating moments of acute stress but about building a foundation of mental well-being that supports overall life satisfaction and resilience.

Also Read: How Cold Showers and Deep Breathing Can Reduce Stress – Oxa


Adding breathing exercises to your mental wellness toolkit complements the transformative strategies of altering your environment, engaging with nature, and decluttering. Together, these practices offer a holistic approach to managing mental distress, fostering a serene mind, and enhancing psychological resilience. Embrace the power of breath as a simple yet profound step towards achieving tranquility and clarity in the midst of life's tumult.

Also Read: How Deep Breathing Calms Anxiety – Oxa

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Angelina Sarycheva
May 28, 2024

MA, CPT accredited by The International Sports Science Association, is a health writer and Content Lead at Oxa Life. With over five years in the health and wellness industry, her expertise, rooted in hands-on experience with leading wellness brands, is to deliver impactful health content to a global audience.

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