Ten Ways to Avoid Stress


1. Go fishing; literally or figuratively. When deadlines loom, what you need is not more time, but less. Learn how to optimize time, by prioritising your schedules. Do you really have to go to the supermarket for Basmati if you have three packets of Patna? Being a perfectionist will also teach you how to climb the wall. Yogis believe that prana, which means breath, is the soul of all living force, and energy. Teach yourself deep, controlled, rhythmic breathing; the deeper you breathe, the more oxygen you take into your body, and the clearer your thinking will be.
2. Chipmunks on speed achieve little. Australians have an expression which has been watered down into the inane ‘antsy’ for use in public: “ants in the pants”. Pacing yourself too hard, for too long, may get you a promotion; but it may also give you an ulcer. Workaholics tend to carry over this compulsion for hustle and shove into their everyday lives too; at home, in the community, in company, on holiday, all that matters is getting things over and done with steamrollering anyone who gets in the way.
3. Beware buzz-words. They are the original Writing On The Wall; terms like “multi-tasking” ought to be considered immoral and illegal. Consider a normal’ hour at the office; answering e-mails, forwarding documents (and jokes); answering the telephone, getting to grips with a report written in gibberish; networking; having lunch at your desk because you cannot afford the time to walk to the staffroom; keeping an ear open for office gossip; sharpening pencils you don’t even use any more; mentally making a shopping list and trying to recall when you last visited the optician. Divide the sixty minutes by the ten items listed above; devote six minutes no more, no less to each of them, and compare your achievements with the usual ones.
4. Rediscover childhood. When was the last time you gazed at the night-sky? When was the last time you threw your head back and laughed unrestrainedly, without caring what others might think? When was the last time you splashed your face with water and didn’t pat it dry? When was the last time you chewed gum for fun, not to soothe your nerves? When was the last time you washed your hair and walked out of the house without bothering to blow it dry?
5. Focus on “the beyond”. Even if you feel that you are caged in by family constraints or other circumstances such as your relationship or your job, there is something you can do. Look between the bars that make up your prison, and let your imagination soar. The line of poetry stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage’, explains it pithily. Freedoms is not necessarily wholly a state of mind or consciousness; but remember that a butterfly may rest on your open palm if he is so inclined to do; but if you try to hold it there, you will either crush it or cause it to fly away. So it is with mental equilibrium.
6. Throw away your crutches. Be they a stiff drink before dinner; an extra-marital affair, mindless zapping between one frivolous variety show on one channel and a puerile soap opera episode on another, crutches are as likely as not to make you stumble, in the end. Find something less draining, but more wholesome, to do; catch upon your personal correspondence, visit an elderly relative give some of your time, and more of yourself, in voluntariat.
7. Become a Boy Scout. Or at least, borrow the Motto and Be Prepared for whatever life throws at you. Try another trick, borrowed from the Yogis, and touch the area known as the intuitive centre between the eyebrows as you take a few deep breaths and decide what to do. Then go ahead and do it, to the best of your ability. You cannot change the world, or other people. So it’s useless allowing that to overwhelm you. You may, however, be able to create some changes in your little corner of it.
8. Share your Day. Being generous, altruistic and kind creates a feel-good factor. Sometimes, it only takes a smile to brighten up the day for someone else and the returns cannot be measured. Learn how to speak, rather than merely talk, how to listen, rather than simply hear. This will put you in a position where you are able to show you care without having to commit yourself to making promises you cannot keep, since you would have created friendships based on sincerity rather than guile.
9. Laugh. Not the sniggering, snickering, sneering, scoffing, scornful laugh of someone with a plank-sized chip on the shoulder, but the chuckle and chortle of someone who is mature enough to laugh at himself and at the incongruities around him. Sincere laughter boosts the immune system, allowing the body to veer away from stress and help heal itself of minor maladies. It is essential to recognise that whereas the Pollyanna Syndrome is over the top, a positive outlook will enable you to select the few golden grains from the mound of chaff, and leave you rested rather than restive.
10. Meals Matter. Bread has not been called the staff of life for nothing; and the expression breaking bread must be taken as meaning that, together with others, you enjoy every forkful of every meal. Just as you must stop and smell the roses, so must you savour the very idea of food prepared and served with love, rather than gulping it down whilst looking it your wristwatch between each mouthful. Avoid white poisons sugars, salts and fats like the plague, and make sure that you eat at least one balanced meal, selecting items from the major food groups, each day.


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