What is stress?
Stress is a biological reaction to a change or threat that needs action on our part. So as a matter of fact, it is one unavoidable phenomenon, no person is immune to it.
It initially makes our mind aware of the uncomfortable situation, and our body, in turn, makes some changes like releasing a series of hormones (like adrenaline) which causes, increased heartbeat and increased breathing rate, diversion in the blood flow and shutting down some unnecessary body mechanisms, etc. to tackle the situation.
For example, consider when we stretch a rubber band; we are applying an external force (threat) on it which puts the band under stress (very scientific right?). And the band continues to be under stress until and unless the external force is removed and the band is returned to its initial and original size and shape due to its elastic properties.
Now consider the elasticity of the rubber band the same as a human response to tackle an uncomfortable situation, so that human can return to its comfort, and this sense of tackling comes from stress.
So on the brighter side, stress is not always a bad thing as it makes us take actions, we just need to learn to manage stress.
If not managed, and if a huge amount of stress is projected to our body and mind for extended periods of time very frequently, it can cause a number of problems like high blood pressure, headache, anxiety, inability to sleep, etc. So here I’m sharing with you a few tips for keeping that stress under healthy limits:
How to Avoid and Manage Stress
- Make your mental health and peace your first priority: In this fast pacing and competitive world, humans tend to forget that everything happening around you is supposed to end into your happiness. Relationships, career, education, etc. are all secondary, because if you are not peaceful and happy, any other part of your life just won’t work. So work on your happiness first before anything else.
- Figure out between “flee or fight”: Not every situation that raises your stress level is worth stressing about, sometimes, things are just avoidable. So try to analyze if you can just ignore the situation and flee from the place, otherwise, you always have the option to fight the demon out.
- Surround yourself with positive, caring people: Stress is way less intense when you have a strong and positive social support system. When people around you are talking about the positives of every situation, and when you know you have family, friends, and colleagues you can look up to in a crisis, then these things automatically reduce stress. So ditch those negative and mean people for good and go for the goodies.
- Talk it out or cry it out: The two most under-rated things. If something is troubling you, try to talk about it with the ones you think care, maybe a parent, siblings, teachers, or a friend. And if you feel like crying then man-up and cry, a little crying never hurt and you will feel a lot better, there is a reason our body triggers crying in overwhelming situations, use that reason, don’t suppress it. And later you can get back to work all with washed and twinkling eyes, with a much clearer vision.
- Prioritize your work: Prioritize the situations in front of you from most to least to not at all important, then start from tackling the most important ones first when you have the most energy. And when you are drained, take that power nap or munch on a cookie or do whatever sails your boat to reboot yourself, and this way you handle stress like a pro.
- Plan: A little beforehand planning always saves the day. when mostly, you know what you need to do in advance, it will never be a bummer.
- Learn to say no: The easiest way to keep stress out of our lives is to try and keep out of other people’s mess or work that has nothing to do with us. And the biggest mistake we make is confusing being nice with inviting unnecessary trouble or workload. So whenever you find yourself in a situation with any proposal you feel like denying, deny politely.
- Meditation and deep breathing: When our body sets into the stress phase, the very initial physical thing that happens is that our blood is directed to our muscles so that we are physically ready to face the potential danger. So what happens then is that the blood flow to our organs including our brain is reduced, which causes “inability to think straight”, resulting in panic and increased stress. Therefore the most important thing in such situations is to calm our body and mind down and normalize our system so that it can overcome stress and the problem well, and what could be the better way to do so than meditating.
Tips to meditate:
- choose a really quiet place with no external disturbance (not your bed or there are great chances that you will fall asleep)
- put on soothing, slow, music (birds chirping, water flowing, etc. really helps)
- sit in padmasana (lotus pose) or the easier one Sukhasana (easy pose)
- close your eyes, and focus on your breathing
Initially, don’t forcefully try to breathe long and deep or don’t forcefully try to push any thoughts out of your mind, doing any of these will only distract you from calming down, both of these things will come naturally with practice.
- Keeping track of your stress: If you frequently find yourself stressing, maybe there is an aspect of your life you find it hard to deal with. Writing down what stresses you will help you find out that aspect, and maybe you can even deal with it for once and for all.
- Healthy sleeping habits: An average person requires an average of 7 hours of sleep a day (varies slightly from person to person) to lead a healthy mental and physical life. So try to get your daily dose of beauty sleep, and also make sure that the timing is the same for every day. Irregular sleeping patterns will only make you irritable and prone to stress with so many more health hazards. Also “early to bed and early to rise” in a cozy and comfortable setup is the best way to sleep.
- Healthy lifestyle: A regular workout routine will make your body healthy and fit, and only this type of body can be home to a healthy and fit mind, which can surely manage stress better, also exercising relaxes the body and helps in sleeping better. The same goes for healthy and balanced meals plus lots of water. Bonus points? Checkout that glow-up.
- Hobbies and music: A little soothing activity goes a long way, always find time for the things you love doing. And music is scientifically proven to help reduce stress.
- Seek professional help: If you are anyhow not able to cope up with the continuous, intense stress, and if you think it is taking a serious toll on your mind and body, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help, there are people out there waiting to help you overcome stress.
In conclusion, there is no such thing as an “unsolvable problem” and no problem is more important than your well-being. On the positive side, a few hours, days, months, or years from now, you will be looking back to your current problems and saying, ” haha-hahh… I was stressing over nothing”. So be the warrior you are and keep conquering life.