By Uday Patil
We live in stressful times. We put up with heavy workloads and battle with deadlines. By the time we come home and it is time to dine, we don’t feel that excited about it anymore. Sleep doesn’t come easy and the morning starts with a rush to reach office on time. Continuing such a lifestyle is bad for your heart and head. The only resources we have are our health and the 24 hours of a day to handle the needs of survival.
So, what does it mean to be stressed?
Stress is a response of the nervous system to situations that seem beyond one’s control. It is the internalised result of external overloads. The clinical meaning of stress refers to a situation that disturbs a person’s mental health. This may lead to other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
Stress at work
Excessive work hours, deadlines and work load, conflicts with people at work, pressures of hierarchy and miscommunication are some of the factors that cause stress. Even if we work at the best of our efficiency, some problems may never be fully resolved.
You are not the stressful situation
Don’t get so caught up in the hustle-bustle of life that you forget to take care of your needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. Unless you feel fit in the mind and the body, you cannot deliver your best in your professional or your personal life.
Managing stress is just a matter of distracting your mind from the current situation. Realise that even if the situation is hard to deal with, it is “outside” you. Once you step out of the situation mentally, you will realise that you’re just an observer. This often works for me and I realise I am not the situation. It makes me feel relieved and composed enough to take care of it.
Here’s how to simplify your life and beat stress:
Make some time to unwind at work. When you reach your office, don’t just get to the desk and start browsing through the pile of files. My former boss would sit calmly as soon as he’d arrive and close his eyes or listen to his favourite song before starting work.
Make some time to relax at work and make it a part of your schedule. Don’t let other obligations drag you down. Ensure you make time to recharge your batteries. Making this a habit increases your productivity. In fact, most successful MNCs like Google Inc., have nap stations where associates can sleep if they feel too bogged down. There are several health benefits of a nap.
Talk to others at work. The fact that they go through the same rut as you, makes them a part of the same boat you’re sailing in. So, there’s a lot to talk about. You may share a joke or have a conversation. Spending time with seniors who enrich you is also great. Get inspired by their success stories. A strong support system will act as a buffer for the negative effects of stress and bring a smile on your face. There are several health benefits of smiling too.
Do something you enjoy every day. Whether you’re at your desk or on your couch at home, make time for activities that bring you joy. Invest in a hobby. Music relieves stress. You can learn some guitar and impress your colleagues on a Friday evening! I love to click pictures and learn more about photography. Dance, read a book, watch a funny video — whatever you fancy.
Work it out!
Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing stress. Exercise for 30 minutes, at least three times a week. Nothing beats aerobics when it comes to releasing physical and mental tension. Working out releases endorphins – a “feelgood” hormone. Improved self-esteem is another psychological benefit of exercising. If you want a bit of that at your desk, here are some desk workout ideas.
Eat right. The golden rule: never skip breakfast. Oats and muesli with egg go a long way in beating an atrocious Monday. Eating right keeps your energy high and mind clear. Eat balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day. And if you’ve to squeeze in only 10 mins for lunch, do not resort to fast food as it has been proven to cause depression.
Avoid situations that make you feel stressed. Avoid unnecessary arguments and conflicts that drain your energy. While ignoring a problem is not always the best way to reduce stress, be assertive about your point of view if it comes to that, instead of worrying about it.
They say a good sleep or a good laugh can resolve anything. Sleeping well is essential for mental health. Maintain a good sleep routine. Try something calm and relaxing before you go to bed, like listening to music or reading if you have difficulty falling asleep.
(Uday is a software developer at Savetime and wanted to reach out to our readers to talk about how to live a stress-free life.)