in: Behavior, Character, Featured

• Last updated: September 26, 2021

6 Manly Ways to Settle Your Mind

Vintage man lying on grass in the park near the lake.

The modern man often leads a rather harried life. There are exams to ace, bills to pay, diapers to change, and annoying co-workers to contend with. And unfortunately, we all too rarely carve out pieces of our day in which to defuse our stress and settle our minds.

Every man needs interludes of quiet and rest, not just to think through what’s been going on in his life but also to not think at all. Just to quiet his mind and be in the moment and feel his cares fall away. Traditional meditation is a great way of doing this. But I’ll level with you — I don’t have the self-discipline to sit still for long periods of time concentrating on my breathing. And I actually find it easier to get into a meditative state when I’m doing something repetitive with my hands. These repetitive motions give the brain a little something to do while the rest of it takes a break. If you’ve ever had a great idea while in the shower, washing dishes, or brushing your teeth you will recognize the wisdom in this.

Activities that keep your hands busy with simple, repetitive movements are some of the best ways to settle your mind, find peace from your worries, and gain inspiration in your decisions. So here are 6 manly ideas for getting a little more zen in your life:

Shining Your Shoes

Vintage man shining his shoes in the Aeroplan.

Shining your shoes can seem like a chore, but as many of you discovered during our 30 Days to a Better Man Challenge, the task can actually be quite therapeutic. There’s something about the smell, the tools, and the technique that makes the job really satisfying. Seeing your dingy shoes transformed into shiny masterpieces acts as a nice metaphor for life; a little elbow grease can remedy any mess. Be sure to check out our illustrated guide and video on the topic as well.

Fly Fishing

Vintage man doing fly fishing while standing in the river.

While all fishing can work wonders on your sense of well-being, no type does it better than fly fishing. Fly fishing combines a quiet, peaceful outdoors setting with the unstoppable de-stressing power of rhythmic casting. If the sound of your line whipping back and forth doesn’t put you into a zen-like state, nothing will.

Playing Catch

Vintage Victorian couple playing catch on the side of river.

A lot of us haven’t picked up a baseball glove since we aged out of Little League. But just because you’re not involved in an organized game, doesn’t mean your glove should sit in the back of your closet. Just playing catch can really relax you and is more fun than you remember. Whenever Kate and I are working on an article and have writer’s block, we put on our gloves right here in the office and throw the ball back and forth. It really helps.


Vintage man whittling hands pocket knife.

Gramps did it and so should you. Men’s hands were meant to create, to turn ordinary objects into something special. And whittling is just the manly craft of woodworking writ small; all you need is a stick and a pocketknife. Start practicing and soon you’ll be making your very own chess set.

Chopping Wood

Vintage man splitting and chopping the wood.

This is something I got to do for the first time while in Vermont this summer. I have to say, it was an incredibly satisfying experience. There’s just something about swinging that heavy axe and the great feeling you get when it hits the log with a crack, splitting apart the wood. I’ve still got a ways to go in being able to consistently split the logs all the way through in one swing, but even my neophyte attempts were good for the soul.


Vintage boxer practicing the speed ball bag.Whether it’s jogging down a country road or pumping iron, working out is a well-known and unbeatable stress reducer. It not only keeps your hands busy, it engages your whole body while your mind goes somewhere else. With your blood pumping and your testosterone increasing, the irritations of your day are released with your sweat. Some people love having a workout partner, but I personally like to be alone and totally inside my own head. Studies have shown that working out outdoors greatly increases the stress-reducing benefits of exercise, so get outside and move your body.

What do you do to settle your mind? Let us know in the comments.

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