Simple steps to beat stress

Stress management need not be a daunting task. Sticking to basics and doing simple things can help in dealing with stress.

RelaxingNobody is exempt from stress. Stress is a fact of life. So, also our ability to deal with stress.

This is because we have a large reservoir of techniques and the like to handle stress. But, how well do we all know that there are as many stress relief measures as there are stressors in life!

However, if you ever thought that effective stress management came with a big value ticket to ride, you ought to think again.

We are prone to relate to stress management as a way of dealing with the problem of stress and its outcome on us. Not just physically, but also mentally.

Stress can certainly cause a host of adverse effects on our system, and lead to health problems - including major disorders such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke etc.

One common mode of stress management anyone could think of is, therefore, predictable - enchanting vacations on exotic locations, lengthy massage sessions, a Goan cruise and/or curtailed work schedules.

Sure, all these and more are quite useful techniques when it comes to handling stress. But, do you know that some of the most powerful stress management drills involve only plain self-reflection? Or, giving thought to one's inner self - and, embracing the vitality of life and being itself?

Here's more - if you don't have such a process, or processes, in your stress management briefcase. You'd sure use them, with good effect, to get over your stresses, in the best manner possible:

Understand your limitations. We are not movie stars or celebrities who mirror only one side of our glossy face to the world. If you think you are a hero, the very thought will shake up your life. In other words, you will not be able to cope with stress when there is one.

Remember - it is only when you are open, and awaken the humanity in you, including the flaws that come with it, will you not only be able to create an inner setting of harmony, healing and buoyancy, but also manage stresses in life well.

Stick to core values. All of us have our own set of core values - big or small - which uplifts our life and destiny. When we abandon our core values, even if it's just one among the many we value, we feel quite out of tune with ourselves. This is how they work! In the event you do not have your own set of core values, or are trying to assemble them, or not too sure what to have in them, there is no need to lose sleep.

Just sit in a comfortable place, think deeply, or brainstorm yourself. Next, try to create a list and stick it at a prominent place you can see most of the time. We all need values - when we don't think of values or do not value them, we feel ill-at-ease with ourselves. This also means that some of the most common stress relief techniques might not help us. Inference: if you value understanding, or empathy, you will be able to relax. Likewise, if you value family dinner time, but miss it often, you should not be under the illusion that a few sessions of yoga would bring the "lost" balance back to your being. It doesn't! So, keep your eye on the equation of harmonious living - you will be much better off for it.

Stick to the basics. When you get too entrenched in the nitty-gritty of your professional career, you do not listen to your natural instincts. You forget your own primitive needs, or feelings. There is a way. Take a few minutes off from your chores, everyday, and immerse yourself in meditation for 15 minutes. Or, take a series of deep breaths while imagining the warmness pervading your heart, mind, and spirit, or soul, for 10-15 minutes. Or, you'd do something which your grandma often did. Tell a story to your kid. Or, go for a jog in the park, or walkway. Or, listen to soulful music with your headphones on - and, make enchanting melodies a very personal, elevating experience. Good music is evidenced to reduce the circulating levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. It will also help you connect to your inner self.

Think differently. Do not always think with a straight-line approach to dealing with stress. For example, if you feel or find you have a problem at work, you would do well to indulge in self-talk. This could help you to change your attitude, and ease your uncertainties. Or, if, for some reason, you feel awfully stressed out, just allow your creative juices to flow. Once you do this, you will be able to formulate an inventive solution to your problems. as you take your customary forty winks. Result? You will be amazed with your own hidden, inner capabilities.

Laugh. Yes - because, laughter is the best medicine. Laughing your heart out has deep therapeutic effects - it is said to be even better than exercise. Laughing helps release just as much endorphins, the feel-good hormone, as does vigorous exercise. Perhaps, more!

Do away with schedules and planned holidays. Stress management does not ask for a planned, expensive, or quick trip to an idyllic location. It calls for some of the most simple, inexpensive, and abundant pleasures of life - like spending quality time alone, or with your family.

Heed to peer pressure. Peer pressure is not restricted to the playing arena - or, the cricket ground, when you were in school. It is different to each of us. So, remember, that, what works for your colleagues may not work for you - but, there is a good chance for agreement. What does this signify? That you should stand firm against the impulse to be conventional. Also, you should aim to craft your own professional self and style. Remember too that conventionality is suicide - because, trying to do and act as others desire will only generate more stress.

Focus on nutrition. Good nutrition holds the key in easing stress. A balanced diet and nutrition can go a long way in countering stress and calming your flustered nerves. Stick to a balanced diet regimen, and take a multivitamin pill, fortified with B-vitamins, as part of your daily plan. You'd, in addition, also take a calcium-magnesium complex. Magnesium is known to reduce the rigours of elevated anxiety and stress. A daily vitamin C pill [500-1,000 mg] is also favoured in many quarters to alleviate the strain of stress, and its accompanying distress.

This is not all. There are many other understated stress-busting techniques available without a price tag. This could be yoga, visualisation, qi-gong, t'ai chi, walking and, most important of all - meditation.

The only thing you'll need to do is to find out the one or more techniques that have it in them to specifically help you manage your stresses - the way you'd want to. Most important: just practice them, as and when needed, or as and when you can.

You will be quite happy with the rewards they bring you in alleviating your anxieties and/or stresses - at almost no cost!

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Rajgopal Nidamboor
Rajgopal Nidamboor, a trained physician, is a writer, commentator, and author. In a career spanning 25 years, Nidamboor has published over 2,000 articles, on a variety of subjects, two coffee table books, an E-book, and a primer on therapeutics, aside from an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy.

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