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COPING WITH STRESS, THE RIGHT WAY
13 November 2018
Stress is our response mechanism to external events. It's our body's way of dealing with a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina and heightened alertness. Stress is faced by everyone and each one of us handles it differently. But, not all stress is bad, and learning how to deal with it and manage it is critical to lead a content and happy life.
The events or stimuli that provoke stress are called stressors and they cover a whole range of situations. From approaching examinations, to being on a plane, being confronted by a person you dislike, personal changes such as an illness, the end of a relationship, shifts in your financial situation- the list of stressors is endless. Work related changes such as a new job or a boss or an increase or decrease in your workload and even environmental changes such as a natural disaster or relocation to another home, state or country are all valid reasons which can induce stress.
Some of the early research on stress established the existence of the well-known "fight-or-flight" response to a stressful situation, object or person. It means that either we face the stressor or try to escape it altogether.
What are the strategies to deal with stress?
We can’t always control the circumstances that life throws our way, but we can control our response towards it. Taking proper care of our body, soul and mind can help us in handling stress. The following are some basic but effective coping strategies:
- Get Enough Sleep - Sleep is very important for our physical and mental well-being. Lack of sleep can negatively impact one’s ability to handle stress. With our current lifestyle and busy schedules, we are left with less time to catch up on enough sleep. An ideal solution to this problem would be a quick power nap as it does not last long and yet invigorates and stimulates our body and spirit. Along with this, make sure that you follow a regular bedtime and wake up at the set time every day.
- Maintain Proper Nutrition - Many people aren’t aware of the fact that a poor diet can make one more vulnerable to stress! A hectic schedule can make it even harder to get proper nutrition, but a poor diet can surely be avoided. Knowing which foods to eat when you are stressed can help produce serotonin, a chemical which regulates our mood. Some foods like bananas, oranges and grapes are particularly good for our mental health. Apart from this, chicken, walnuts and whole wheat pasta are also known to be quite effective in fighting stress. Dark chocolates, though high in calories, can act as a stimulant and have a very soothing effect on people’s moods.
- Exercise Regularly - Exercise helps the body release hormones like endorphins which add to the overall well-being of the body. It increases the supply of oxygen to the brain and aids in reducing stress.
- Maintain a Social Life - Having an active circle of friends can keep one healthier and happier by creating a buffer against stress. One of the most important thing that one can do is to go out and meet people. Staying reclusive and refusing to socialize only leads to an increase in stress levels which can further lead to depression.
- Inculcate a Hobby – It is important to take out some time from our hectic schedule to engage in some recreational activity. Developing a hobby not only gives happiness but also provides a nice distraction from stress by making us stay ‘In the moment’.
- Pamper Yourself - Taking care of our body with a spa treatment, massage session and other grooming activities can work wonders for our internal state. It relaxes our senses and makes us feel energized. Listening to soothing music of your choice or watching a movie which brings a smile to your face can also help. Simple activities like getting a new haircut, manicure or a facial can make us feel joyous.
- Keep a Positive Attitude – The amount of stress we feel highly depends on our overall attitude towards life. Perceiving things from an optimistic frame of mind can not only help decrease stress levels, but also attract success and happiness into our lives. Also, if we start viewing stress as a challenge that we need to overcome than a threat we might succumb to, we’ll be better at handling it.
- Keep a pet - It has been noted that pets help reduce stress in our lives. With the unconditional love they provide, pets can be your loyal companions.
You can choose from any of the strategies mentioned above to manage your stress levels. Life is a beautiful gift and by opting for the right habits and following a correct lifestyle, you can definitely win the war against stress.