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The Stress Blog

STRESS… one of the most popular, dynamic, and casually spoken about ailments that almost all of us suffer from on a daily basis.

Stress of the household, the traffic, work, relationships, politics, goodwill, and more are unfortunate constants in our lives. And yet, while the world tries to battle stress, we often find ourselves getting dragged into its vortex of discomfort.


So, what is stress, how does it manifest, how can we work with it,

and how can we reduce it?



WHAT IS STRESS?

The broad definition of stress is, it is the sense of worry and tension caused by incidents that are challenging. But go deeper and you will realise that not only do challenges cause stress, but change does. Anything that is not the current norm in your life causes stress. As such, stress can be negative as well as positive, as changes tend to go either way.


Stress is the most normal reaction to change as the mind analyses change as an opportunity where reaction and action may be required. However, it is when we let stress take over our rational thought process, our emotions, and even our actions, that the problem arises.


HOW DOES STRESS MANIFEST?



Stress may manifest into physical discomfort, which is the most common effect of prolonged stress, but it may also lead to limiting and negative thought patterns, fears and phobias, and limitations of skills and logical reasoning. In short, stress can be manifested in your body, your emotions, and even your mind. Having said that, stress can also manifest as passion, resilience, and consistency.


HOW CAN WE WORK WITH STRESS?

As mentioned before, stress in itself is neither good nor bad, or rather, is good and bad. And so, with practice, one can learn how to work with stress rather than against it! I often find that the more resistance one shows to a situation, the more control one loses over it. And so, I think of any change to be a temporary, but a very real situation. This perspective helps me face the change in a gentle accepting manner, while at the same time using stress to tackle this change.



The key to working with stress is to not let it affect our emotions. And I know that sounds difficult, and I'm sure, for some it is, but it is the first step of managing stress. Once it affects our emotions, it finds a clear path into our mind, and soon then, into our body. As such, shutting the first gate itself will in fact, help you think with more clarity.


Here are a few tips to help you close the first gate to stress:

  1. Breathe: An activity that may seem natural, but is tremendously powerful, breathing slowly and gently in times of crisis is known to have spectacular results on the human body. And so, breathe in for 6 counts and breathe out for 6 counts. It would be an additional bonus if you could breathe into your belly instead of your stomach. Belly breathing activates the body’s parasympathetic system which is also known as the rest and digest system of the body, and also stimulates the vagus nerve.

  2. Pause: Don’t be in a hurry to react. Give yourself time to process the change. In this fast paced life, we are all so used to reacting to everything quickly, within the required timeframe. We are running continuously, our actions governed by the ticking clock. As such, we actually don't realise that just a brief pause can make a huge difference. Have you ever thought that a 60 second red traffic signal is long? It was when the traffic signal timers came that I realised how long 1 minute actually was. My thoughts raced at an unmatched speed as I saw the countdown and wondered what else could be achieved in only a minute. And so, pause. Pause till the time you are sure of your response. And it is absolutely okay to give a temporary response that gets you more time to process the situation.

  3. Slow down: As cliché as it may sound, don’t jump to conclusions. Slow your thought process as it will help you consider different perspectives. Slow your reactions, as it will make you alert to others’ emotions. And slow down your actions so that you know you did the best you could!



HOW CAN WE REDUCE STRESS?

Working with stress, as given above, will help reduce stress. But there are many more activities that you can indulge in daily or regularly to reduce the tendency of being stressed. These activities may be chosen according to your preference, but including them in your lifestyle will, without doubt, show immediate results.

  • Moving the body: Exercise, swim, dance, do yoga, walk! Moving the physical body ensures movement of the emotional body and the mind. Stress will slowly find it difficult to manifest in the body, and a healthy body is a healthy mind!

  • Indulge in the arts: Music, painting, knitting, cooking, the list is endless! Indulging in arts is an activity that you will do for yourself. The thought of putting yourself first will be converted into action, and you will slowly find ways of comforting yourself in stressful situations with ease.

  • Meditate: Contrary to popular belief, meditating need not always be sitting quietly, eyes shut, focusing inward. Meditating is simply being in the moment, mindful of all your senses, and expanding your consciousness. And so, you can meditate in the traditional manner, or you can make any activity like yoga, swimming, cooking, painting, and even listening to music an act of meditation.


It may seem intimidating, but the key to stress management is to simply start!




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