- Rohini Rajeev
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Stress, Before, During and Beyond
- Is your memory failing you?
- Are you unable to concentrate?
- Are you irrationally negative?
- Are you anxious?
- Are you constantly worrying?
- Are you moody, irritable, and unable to relax?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
- Are you feeling isolated?
- Are you generally unhappy?
- Do you experience unexplained pain sometimes?
- Does your head, shoulder, neck or lower back hurt?
- Do you have episodes of diarrhea or/and constipation?
- Are you feeling nauseated and dizzy?
- Does your chest pain and your heart beat faster?
- Do you often catch a cold?
- Do you have eruptions on your skin and are rashes bothering you?
- Do you have an ulcer that just isn't healing?
- Is there a loss in your sex drive?
- Are you eating more or eating less?
- Are you sleeping too much or too little?
- Are you neglecting your relationships and procrastinating?
- Do you need alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax?
- Are you biting your nails too much?
Have you considered stress?
In a quest to uncover previously unknown reasons for injury and illness, a scientific and revolutionary new paradigm is emerging the world over… the study of Metaphysics – more specifically the concept of Body Symbolism. This concept, still under extensive research, aims to illuminate the path of understanding our unconscious and subconscious motivations. It breaks new ground in understanding our mind-body relationship through the principles of Metaphysical Psychosomatics.
In non-medical terms, this means that if we feel more sick than usual, it will help us to know that our physical symptoms maybe related to our emotional lives and that there is nothing wrong with that! Knowing what works for us and what doesn't can go a long way in helping us better face our emotional issues and accelerate our healing, thus paving way to happiness.
According to Dr. Brian Broom, author of ‘Meaning-full Disease', the conscious or unconscious perceptions we have of our lives can play a large role in the development of an illness – either as a trigger or something that serves to prolong it. It is now widely accepted, for example, that many conditions such as arthritis, stomach ulcers or asthma flare up under stress.
During pre-civilization, stress responses got triggered at the obvious signs of danger, resulting in fight or flight. However, nowadays these responses get triggered even when there is no imminent danger. Stress, it seems is everywhere and the biological responses to it do not seem to be appropriate to the cause. Research also says that men and women handle stress differently. While men may tend to become hostile, withdrawn and irritable while under stress; women seem to tend and befriend. Their urge to protect and care for, increases and they also seek out and receive social support more easily.
If we are more aware of the causes for stress in our lives and the various ways in which it affects us, then we will become more conscientious individuals and cease feeling helpless and dependent. It will also become easier for us to reach out and help ourselves while helping others as well.
Work stress is inevitable, in fact mild to moderate stress is almost mandatory to an enjoyable job. However, any stress beyond bearable levels needs to be handled.
The following could help you both at work and at home:
- Get a good overview of the task in hand.
- Set up a systematic framework to carry out the task.
- Make sure help is available in case of impediments.
- Take regular short breaks in order to maintain free thoughts and keep up energy levels.
- Focus on the task and remember to relax, eat well and get sufficient rest while at home.
- Find ways to unwind and recharge, like listening to music, reading, hitting the gym or brisk walking.
- Rekindle your passion, because it is important to reconnect with yourself,before life's liabilities and expectations take over completely.
The economy has slowed down. All the pacing we did the last few years has brought us but this far… with so much pressure to perform and stay afloat in the market, we seem to focus more on our employment and less on our personal lives. The number of sacrifices we are making today is much more than what we have ever been comfortable making. From relationships that are dwindling due to lack of quality time with each other, to haggard parenting resulting in guilt, the sacrifices have indeed become heartrending.
How can we handle this?
- Firstly, MAKE THE TIME… No matter what anyone might say about bread and bacon; what use is money when there is no one to spend it on?
- PRIORITIZE YOUR NEEDS… Make a little time for yourself and place your needs over everyone else's. As selfish as this might sound, you cannot argue with the fact that if you are not doing what you like, then there is little joy you can give others.
- PRIORITIZE WHO/WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR BEING… When your support system is strong, the hard times become easier to handle. This means you need to be ready to give and receive love, share and stand up for those you care for.
- CHERISH YOUR HEALTH. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
- ENJOY THE SIMPLE PLEASURES… yes, smell the flowers. It really is as good as it sounds.
- SURROUND YOURSELF WITH WHAT YOU LOVE…be it family, pets, music, plants…remember your home is your refuge.
- THE TEARS HAPPEN… endure, grieve and move on. The only person with you your whole life is you! Live while you are alive.
Pay attention to your Stress-Tells. A compiled list( from various academic and support resources) with more ways to help you handle stress is given below:
- Take a 10-minute walk. Give yourself an endorphin boost. Focus on the greenery around you, attend and reflect, do not merely make it an involuntary action.
- Breathe deeply. Pranayama (Aptly called the Life Force) will help you calm down.
- Visualize. Guided imagery often elicits a relaxation response. Picture a peaceful scene, a vacation, accomplishing a future goal or anything that makes you happy.
- Understand your Gut-Brain axis. Eat a snack, but mindfully. Focus on the food, the appearance, texture, taste and how it makes you feel. Eat a snack like you are meditating. Compensate nourishment for the brain and eat something filling rather than fattening. APA recommends eating potassium rich foods like Banana or Potato to stave off the physical detriments of stress like an increase in the blood pressure. Banana also improves energy levels and aids recovery when very stressed.
- Step away from the screen. Try to have at least one hour of computer free time before sleeping. Late night uninterrupted computer use is known to increase stress, result in sleep loss and also likely to induce depression.
- Hang up, then turn off your phone. Don't feel the pressure to respond to messages. Switch off the WIFI and only keep the ICE options on for your satisfaction.
- Put on some music. It is well known that music (that you like in particular)comforts and as a result feel-good neurotransmitters like Dopamine gets released into the brain. Music can soothe everyday anxiety as well as particularly stressful events like going in for surgery. Recreational music can also prevent a burn out!
- Indulge in Craft-Mindful repetitive motions that use your fine motor skills can soothe anxiety.
- Read a funny book or watch a short funny viral video. There is nothing like a good laugh to release endorphin.
- Talk to your Best Friend. Talking to someone who knows you and accepts you as you are helps increase your Cortisol production… the Happy hormone helps keep stress under control.
- Practice progressive muscle relaxation. Start by tightening your toes and go all the way up. Tighten and then relax them. Finish with your face. It helps in handling anxiety and even depression.
- Occasionally chew sugar-free gum, especially while multitasking. It can help relieve anxiety and improve alertness.
- Pucker-up. Many studies reveal that those who kissed only for/during sex where 8 times more chronically stressed/depressed.
- Try Garudasana or the Eagle Pose. Its a Yoga technique that helps you open out your shoulders, relieve neck tension and do away quickly with the physical symptoms of stress that you could be experiencing.
So take time to listen to what your body is telling you. Take time to breathe. For in today's round the bend world, we could use all the help we get… especially from ourselves.
Founder, The Able Mind