Stress Busters

1) Don’t pretend to be happy if you are stressed or anxious or sad. Go ahead and express your feelings. Don’t leave them bottled in inside you. There is no virtue in hiding your feelings and desires. Sad or happy – express them fully.
I know of people who have led the most disciplined life, exercised daily, ate properly, no alcohol, meditation – one would think they should be the most healthy and fit people. But two of them got cancer, one of them has hypertension and one got a heart attack. While genetics definitely had a role to play, what was the lifestyle that pulled the trigger?  They all had one thing in common. Keeping their emotions, their desires to themselves. If they felt stressed or anxious about some event, they didn’t talk about it as didn’t want to burden their loved ones with it. They went through their lives without expressing themselves, their wants, their likes, their dislikes.
Don’t forget your body listens to what your mind is thinking.
Inspite of leading a most ” sathvik” life, they could not prevent the disease.
A very important element of coping with stress is talking about it. And it’s ok to let your loved ones know what’s bothering you, what’s making you feel sad. If you don’t want to talk to them, find a friend. If you are lucky you will have that one friend or partner who you can talk with about anything.
And if that doesn’t work then ” self- talk”.
I do a lot of both. I don’t believe in hiding my feelings. I believe in expressing myself. If I want a hug I will express it. If a loved one said something that hurt, I will talk about it.
And Yes, I do a lot of self – talk. In front of the bathroom mirror, in the car on the way to work, while brisk walking on the treadmill. You should try it – it’s very effective in putting things in perspective and sorting out the various emotions going through your mind.
Say to yourself every day “I am in charge of how I feel and today I choose happiness”.
2) Stay Calm. Deep Breaths. Don’t stress about things, events , people which are not in your control.  Do not think of what could go wrong but on what could go right. Think forward,  think positive, think of the solution to the problem, DO NOT think of the problem.
If I am stuck in traffic and have a flight to catch, ofcourse I get anxious. But I won’t allow that anxiety to fester into panic and stress. I start searching for options available in the event I miss the flight.
The ability to move on from a negative situation is most important. You cannot avoid negativity in your life. Key is how you respond to it.  I have gone through my share of personal lows and professional disappointments and there have been many times that I have wanted to quit.
What do I do when I am feeling down ? It’s quite simple really.  Instead of focusing on the event or people that are making me feel sad or angry, I instead start focusing my mind on the positives and blessings in my life – my family, my friends, my health, the opportunities I have received.  This is something I consciously do. It not only makes me stay positive and happy, but helps me move on. You should try it – Focus on all that is good in your life.
” Count your Blessings”.
3) Laughter- it is wonderful for the heart and boosts your immunity system. I laugh a lot. I also have a unique ability to laugh at myself. You can crack as many jokes on me – hell, I can crack them myself. Laughter releases happy hormones and is a big stress reliever. Find a friend or a partner who can make you laugh. Join a laughter club. Watch a comedy.
4) Develop interests and passions and devote time to them. It not only enriches you and makes you an interesting person, but it also makes you happy and creates positive feelings and energy. Whether it’s music, travel, reading, sports, fashion, movies, art, politics, cooking – Discover your passion. What moves your soul. What is your therapy. Find that and devote time to it.
I have always had multiple interests.
I was five years old when I discovered my love for music. It was my first friend, and it has never left my side. Music never fails to uplift my mood. As a child I used to study listening to Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle. I trained in Indian classical vocal and my love for music has endured. Even today a soulful song by Arijit Singh or Ed Sheeran moves me. Whenever I am feeling low, or depressed, I listen to music and suddenly my mood changes. Go find your ” music”. It is a big stress buster.
I used to be a voracious reader of fiction – happiest sitting in a corner devouring a book, oblivious to my mother calling me out. Reading used to transport me into another world. If you can find the time to read, it is a wonderful way to overcome negative thoughts.
I discovered the love for travel as a teenager and today I am a confirmed travel addict. I love to explore new places, cultures, cuisines, meet new people, visit historical places, nature and hiking trails, modern cities, wildlife. Have been fortunate to travel on my holidays to all the continents. I even need to travel a lot at work, but that doesn’t stress me. I  am very comfortable at airports, train stations and love to observe people. Travel to me is therapeutic. I always return feeling energised and positive. At the end of a trip you will find me planning another trip.
As a eleven year old the wonderful and exciting world of sports came into my life. Have been watching sports ever since. Today I am an avid follower of Cricket, Tennis, Olympic sports and try not to miss the Football world cup  Gives me a big high to just watch a sports game. Watching India lift the cricket world cup , Nadal and Federer playing a Grand Slam Tennis final, Sindhu winning the silver medal at the Olympics in Badminton, Germany winning the football world cup – the thrill of the game, the excitement of the sport, the joy of winning and the pain of a loss, watching sports can be a huge stress buster.
What can I say about the American and British Drama series – I am sure you too are a Game of Thrones fan or have spent hours binge watching 24 or Downton Abby and have listened to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes.
And I haven’t even begun to describe about the world of fashion & shopping and the  pleasure of collecting Art and Antiques. Weekends spent scouting galleries and antique markets.
The point I make is develop multiple interests and passions. It helps your mind focus away from negative thoughts and feelings. And gives you a lot of happiness and a sense of purpose.
5) I started this blog by mentioning about my obsession with exercise. And while future blogs will be devoted to it’s importance and impact on health and well being, what I would like to mention here is that one of the key benefits of exercise is that it is an incredible stress reliever and releaser. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body when it is under stress or when one is angry, anxious or scared. Exercise not only helps burn Cortisol, it also releases a chemical called Endorphins, which creates a positive and euphoric feeling in the body, leading to reduced stress. For me daily exercise is a non negotiable. It not only keeps me energetic, but helps me cope with the stress of work and family responsibilities.
Get on the treadmill, go for a walk,  practice yoga – whatever works for you.
What is vital is to make exercise and physical activity a part and parcel of your daily ritual.
So here are my ” Stress Busters”
Don’t overthink
Express Yourself
Hugs and kisses
Passions like Watching Sports, Drama series.
Spend time with friends, family.
Stay calm
Deep Breaths
Think of all that is wonderful in your life.
Stay optimistic and always look at the bright side. Life is too short to waste your precious moments thinking negatively.
Remember tomorrow is another day!

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