Stress is like a coin with two sides—the good and the bad. While good stress is productive, mobilising and healthy, bad stress is non-productive, restrictive and unhealthy. It is the magnitude and intensity of stress that makes it bad.
Stress starts to create problems in our lives, when the amount of bad stress exceeds the good stress. To keep stress under control, we should:
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. A dull and unhealthy body is more susceptible to stress.
- Practise yoga, meditation, deep breathing, aerobics or whatever suits you best.
- Train your mind to understand when stress is unnecessary. The moment you find yourself getting bogged down, pause and think, "Is the problem worth taking so much stress?" When the focus shifts from worry to analysis, stress reduces.
- Maintain a routine, schedule and structure. It prevents piling up of tasks and keeps us relaxed.
- Reduce your intake of tea/coffee. People who drink many cups of tea or coffee at work, in an effort to keep themselves fresh, ultimately face the caffeine attack on their nerves and show exhaustion, irritability, insomnia and mood swings.
- Sometimes, a stressed-out mind is also a symptom of certain mineral deficiencies, especially calcium and iron. It is important to eat a balanced diet to keep unwanted rise or dip of certain chemicals in the body.
- Set aside time on a regular basis to enjoy some "me-time".
- Maintain social and interpersonal bonds and also enjoy "we-time"; good time spent with dear ones is a wonderful way to recharge the mind.
- Develop and maintain a hobby. It takes your mind into a pleasurable world for some time and will refresh you.
- Bring change into your life from time to time, to overcome monotony. For example, you can rearrange the furniture in your home, buy yourself something, or try out a new recipe.
- Get yourself checked regularly for hormonal upheavals or chemical imbalances and get them treated.
If nothing helps, don't shy away from getting professional help. A good psychotherapist will help sort out, prioritise and manage your problems.
If you experience these symptoms, your stress is unhealthy.
- You are irritable, angry and show bad temper.
- You have excessive worry that doesn't match with the intensity of the problem. You feel restless and your mind is wandering into other unrelated problems.
- You are stressed, but you don't share the problem with others [you know somewhere in your mind that the problem doesn't demand the stress and so you don't want to feel dismissed by others' take-it-easy advice].
- You have many physical symptoms like headache, high/low blood pressure, fast heart rate, loss of appetite and nausea.
- You are tensed, thinking about the problem, but are unable to come up with a solution; you aren't able to focus and think with clarity.
This was first published in the May 2011 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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