Give Stress A Rest
Stress as we know is a killer and unless we take preventive measures early in life we may succumb to this vicious malady .
Some common stress triggers
1, You are constantly worried about certain problems in your life but are unable to find a solution or have not found a solution to the problem.
2, You have become pessimistic in your approach to anything and everything around you and your decisions are increasingly become fear based which shows that your self confidence level too has come down.
3, You are constantly worried about your job security , unable to meet deadlines or cope with unpleasant situations at your work place. You also fear that your work is not up to the mark.
4, You keep comparing your life to other people’s lives and envy other people’s lives. You blame it on your destiny.
5, You constantly worry about your children’s performance and keep comparing them to their friends' performance which you feel is far better and keep nagging about it but also feel guilty about the whole situation.
6, You have become a slave of or have got addicted to some habits which you are not too happy about but are unable to overcome – this could be anything from alcohol or substance abuse, being physically abusive or stealing or being rude to your family members.
None of the above problems are permanent since all of them have solutions if only we make a sincere effort. Given below are some ways to alleviate everyday anxiety and stress caused through them . The points discussed here give you some tips and ideas to get through the toughest days...
Laughter is the best medicine
It has been shown that most health measures such as blood pressure are sensitive to stress and that they improve when the person begins to laugh more. How does one bring in humor into everyday life ?
Reframe – Sometimes it helps us to look at a difficult event from a new perspective makes it hilarious. It happens with us at times when we fail to see the funny side of things instead concentrate on the rough side. According to psych analysts Comedy is tragedy plus time . This is precisely why we have jokes even on disasters that happen around the world because one cannot remain stressed all the time, you need to release this negative energy from our system and laughing about it does help.
So coming back to our everyday situations – Don’t keep on and on about things that went wrong instead look at things with a sense of levity. Make a joke when a situation feels absurd and you will be amazed at how laughter defuses stress in a matter of seconds.
Read good humorous books , watch well made comedy shows and analyse them putting them to test in your own life situations. Believe me it does help a lot when you don’t take yourself too seriously. Having a chip on your shoulder never helps.
Tune out tension - I remember a time when I was extremely stressed by some personal problems and found the home atmosphere stifling. So, I decided to go for a long walk , began thinking about the whole episode in a different perspective and by the time I was back home I was feeling quite normal. So the next time you feel overwhelmed by stress try going for a walk or putting on your favorite music and see how quickly it changes your environment and mood.
Many researchers have found through studies that music can alleviate pain and anxiety like no other stress buster. The calming effect that music has on is threefold. We are distracted from worries, transported by images and memories associated with specific songs and tunes and are able to cue a relaxed mood by playing music that has had a calming effect on us in the past. The type of tune is less important than our experience of it in the past. Just listening to the tune for 30 seconds is enough to calm us down and bring down the stress levels.
The type of music preferred and likes may differ from person to person - Some people may love to listen to soft soothing tunes while someone else may need a blast of heavy metal. Similarly, what soothes you at 10 am , may be different from what you need at 10 pm.
To promote relaxation, therapists usually recommend instrumental music. But if you are extremely tense, you may need lyrics to sing along. Keep a playlist of different variety of songs especially the ones that soothe you. The important thing is that you really should listen to whatever is playing and not continue with your thoughts with the music playing in the background.
Try this the next time you are stressed and once it becomes a cultivated habit you will become stress free in no time.
Give your body a holiday - Stress tends to hit us on a physical level ( like racing heart, upset stomach, excessive sweating, headaches and muscle tension ). How do we find antidotes to these symptoms ? we can try the following strategies which will definitely help us.
Take an inventory – This is something that you need to do from time to time. Take a note as to which parts of your body are calling for extra attention. Like for example : Is your spine straight and rigid or is it bent and curved because of spending hours together bent in front of your desk? Similarly examine every little complaint you may have in your body. Try to find a cure for this since a sprained back may need some simple exercise like stretching every now and then and remembering to keep your body straight.
Breath in – Stress can also lead to shallow breathing. Relax your shoulders and jaw, take expansive breaths in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. Deep breathing turns your focus inwards ( more on this is covered later when I write about meditation). Some people close their eyes while deep breathing and some prefer to keep them open, however the choice is yours and do whatever suits you the best!
Imagination is very powerful – Certain words and mental pictures help our mind to let go and even help us alter our muscle tone. Once you begin to imagine that the tension you feel in your back is slowly melting away, you can be sure that, that’s what will happen. Our mind is extremely powerful and when we make up our mind we are able to achieve what may seem the impossible. Some of the old Chinese form of exercise involved loosening the limbs and your entire body so that it almost collapses as if it is weightless. It also involved shaking of fingertips and limbs and neck to shake away the tension from different parts of your body. This is more to do with the state of mind than the body.
Walk out of the door – Nothing works like a brisk walk in the open air to relieve tension that normally builds up indoors. Have you noticed that when you are outdoors amidst nature you seldom feel tense ! Nature and greenery has a soothing effect on us and it calms us. According to studies women who took up walking for 30 minutes a day three to four times a week became less prone to anxiety and stress build up. Simply being outdoors makes a world of difference. So make walking a part of your life style.
Learn to Juggle – For many people balancing different work and responsibilities becomes the most difficult job of all which brings on stress. If both the couple are working then balancing office work and home life becomes a constant struggle. The best way to tackle this is for both to negotiate, distribute and arrange work so that home and children don’t get neglected. One has to be prepared at times to make changes and may be sacrifices too with regard to work since child care is a perpetual responsibility and cannot be ignored. Instead of getting stressed in your work spot over what might be happening at home or with the kids it is better to cut down on your work and opt for either shorter hours of work or work from home. These days there are plenty of options to do that. You also have the satisfaction of doing your best for your family.
Get Organised – The more organised an individual is the less reason for stress and anxiety, at least in day today dealings. An organised daily routine keeps your body and mind in order.
Some people find it difficult to remember important things and this causes stress since they have to face the consequences . When such is the case it helps to jot down all important matters that needs to be dealt with – making a list of things to do is very helpful when you tend to forget or have a poor memory. Before you sleep spend 15 minutes thinking over what needs to be done for the next day and make a master list which includes everything that needs to be done in your office or work spot and at home.
Stay focused – Make sure that your attention does not get interrupted when you are doing something important. Playing video games along with work has become common for some people working in offices. Similarly housewives are prepared stop cooking just so that they can watch their favorite serial. If you feel that you need to carry on doing these activities , then better organise your work schedule so that it does not come in the way of your other work that is equally or far more important.
One more point to be noted here – When you constantly interrupt your focus on to something else it is not just the 15 minutes or 30 minutes that you are losing but another 15 minutes after the activity since you need that much time to get back into focus. At the same time when you have already organised your work schedule, you will be able to focus back better in just about 30 seconds since you are mentally prepared for the shift.
Don’t just dream instead try putting it into action – I see many women having dreams of having a beautiful house and a happy home atmosphere and keep grumbling how things are different on their home front.
I am here reminded of an advertisement I have seen for a cleaning liquid, A woman sits in front of a pile of dirty vessels ,dreaming that the vessels have been cleaned and shining ! Suddenly she gets a flash that she should act instead of dreaming and when she begins to work on her vessels using the said cleaning liquid her dream becomes a reality ! What I am saying is that a life becomes far more fulfilling when you start or at least make efforts to realise your dreams.
If you want a clean house start cleaning and putting things in order and make it a practice to do this every day.Most of your stress gets relieved as you remain focused and work towards making your dream a reality and when you look at your spic and span home.
This is one of the best solution there is for any kind of stress. Many tend to think that you need to contort yourself into a complicated yogic posture to do this. There is absolutely no need for that since there are many different ways of meditating and one can do some of the technics just about anywhere.
Few points that need to be kept in mind while meditating.
1, Remember that you are meditating , and when you do so, your attention is supposed to be focused on the subject of meditation- be it your breath, your steps, a sound or a candle. Whenever other thoughts intrude, as soon as you notice that you are no longer focused on the meditation bring your attention back firmly.
2, Do not be overtly critical about yourself just because you failed to concentrate and your attention got diverted. This is a very natural thing that can happen to anyone. What is far more important is to focus back and carry on with your meditation rather than feeling guilty and adding on more stress.
3, When you find it difficult to blank your mind out from certain thoughts and concentrate on meditating, it is a sure sign that those thoughts are important to you. However you can try to explore your mind over the thought that comes on repeatedly like for example focusing on what exactly is worrying you. Unless it is something for which there is no solution you can try to find how you can help the situation get better. Once you have thought things out get back to meditation.
4, Meditation is not a race nor should it be a forced activity, in fact it should come on willingly and you should be able to focus without any stress. The more relaxed you are the better it is for you. It is precisely because it is not a race , that you need to slowly blank out your mind of all disturbing thoughts which cannot be done in a jiffy but requires some time. Get completely immersed and do not be overtly concerned about your achievements. Just do it for your own good! Even in a race situation excessive concern about how you are faring ( looking back over your shoulder or around you to see how others are faring) actually decreases your performance level.
None of us can be free of stress, we can only help ourselves by managing stress better and coping with it in a more practical manner. When you realize that certain things are causing stress more than others you need to concentrate on those matters. Once you begin taking it as a challenge and start exploring ways to overcome it you will be able to realise that the stress levels are automatically coming down. It is the inaction and the negative mentality towards stress that makes the situation get out of hand.
I personally feel that we also need to teach our youngsters early in life to manage stress so that they are better equipped to cope when they become teenagers and get exposed to various stressful situations. Many of them are totally at a loss when it comes to dealing with situations that are new to them and take wrong advise from friends and others who may misguide them. Parents making them aware beforehand and giving them the confidence to discuss such matters with them help them deal with such stressful situations in a much more practical manner. This goes a long way in making them responsible adults.
(Images - wikimedia library)
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