Stress no more…

During my tenure as an advertising professional, I have often come across people who thrived at getting things done under chaos and last minute deadline; proclaiming it to bring the best out of them. They say “this stress does me good and keeps me on my toes”… Well!!! Sometimes stress can be good for us, especially when it gives us the motivation to complete a task. Strangely, successful dealing with stress provides us with a feeling of satisfaction and the belief that we can handle challenging situations, giving us the confidence to believe that we can get things done under varied circumstances.

A certain amount of stress is necessary for an organism to thrive.

When faced with stressful situations, our body responds with a fight or flight response. While this response is helpful for an animal that might become a predator’s meal, it has limited utility in our modern lives. A stressful event triggers the “fight-or-flight” response, causing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to surge through the body. In fact, if gone unchecked our stress becomes chronic, which causes serious health challenges, as most of us already know.

While many circumstances might be beyond our control, we do have some choices on how we approach stressful situations. So how can we cut down on our stress?

Those who have the most success at controlling stress focus on taking charge of situations and seeking solutions. Coping actively with stress is something that we need to do in a mindful manner on a daily basis. If we tend to avoid challenges and wait for the situation to resolve itself, they only get worse; we are compounding our stress instead of reducing it.

We need to Choose how we perceive stressful circumstances. What we think about a circumstance has the most effect on us and our future in dealing with the situation. Will I be a victim and feel worse, or will I take action to do what I can to make it better?

Relax and defuse our body’s stress response. It’s difficult to exercise direct control over many aspects of our physical stress response. For example we cannot really will our heart rate and blood pressure to a lower level, However, we do have a lot of control over our breathing, both the rate and the depth, which can actually help the body to relax and calm down.

    • Sitting in a quiet place and taking slow, deep breaths can perform miracles. Take a slow, deep breath, hold it for two seconds, and then release it slowly. A very effective way to get this going is to sit for 1 minute only in silence with deep breathing, 5 times a day. Try it, it works miracles. I am telling you after practice and seeing results on it.
    • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is all the rage today, but it has been around for thousands of years. All it really entails is totally focusing on the task at hand. If we are folding laundry, we should only be thinking about folding laundry, not thinking about our spouse, work, bills, or anything else. An effective way to learn to practice this is to sit quietly and just listen to the sounds around us for 5 minutes, whenever possible. When we do that we are totally focused on the present.

  • It’s essentially impossible to be stressed in the present moment. In reality, when we are stressed, we are either stressing about the past or future. We are either getting upset about something that’s over or worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. It’s said that 99% of the things we worry about actually never happen so is there is point in being stressed about them?

The age old recommendation to get some exercise. A fight or flight response dumps a lot of chemicals into your body that get everything revved up. Burn them off with a healthy dose of exercise. A simple walk of 15 -20 minutes is enough, which doesn’t require much preparation or cost any money. I suggest walk back home some distance from work. Send you car ahead, or get off two bus stops early or walk from the station to your home, whatever is your deal, just build this walking into your daily routine and see the benefits.
There’s no reason to overdo it, but moving our body around in a vigorous fashion will make you feel a lot better.

Do you take good care of yourself? Most people say “yes off course” however, statistics shows us that the stress related ailments are on a rise. Most of us tend to marginalize the importance of a healthy diet and adequate sleep. This is a mistake. Our body needs nutritious foods to have a clean energy source. It also needs the proper rest to de-stress and heal from the rigors of the day. Only few lucky ones can sustain a 4 -5 hours sleep and be fresh as lily the next day, for mortals like us 7 hours sleep is an absolute must.

Find some stress-free activities than you can enjoy regularly. Maybe golf is your thing. Maybe volunteering makes you feel better. For me I color drawing books, when I travel or when I just want to have a peaceful day. Find a new hobby that engages your mind, like chess or learning the guitar or cooking or gardening.

Be proactive. It is much easier to get our stress level under control when it first starts to rise. When our stress is reaching maximum levels, it’s almost too late at that point to regain control. Listen to the body, it talks to us constantly, giving us indication on how we are feeling and what’s happening inside us. It first gives us simple signals, when we don’t hear it hits us hard. So listen to it carefully and take the appropriate steps to heal the body.

The 9 minutes a day rule; start the day with the chosen beverage and for 9 minutes, be with yourself, listen to the sounds around you and slowly think of how the day will be? (Not plan the To-do list) what will be the chosen state of mind? How can we make our day productive?

Animal studies have shown that lifespan is reduced when an animal is subjected to constant stress.

A lot has been said about stress by experts, today a 5 year old is seeking therapy due to her stress, and there is no magic cure to it, except accepting it and working harmoniously to keep it in check. Take the necessary steps to get stress level as low as reasonably possible.
I wish you Happy Living…

(Writer is a Life and Personal Branding Coach and practices in Mumbai, India)

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