That stress is one of the biggest causes of health problems in many peoples’ lives is now an indisputable fact. Decades ago, the Time magazine’s June 6, 1983 cover story called stress “The Epidemic of the Eighties” and referred to it as our leading health problem; since then the situation could only have progressively worsened. Today, medical research by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that up to 90 percent of all illness and disease is stress-related.
Hypertension, heart disease, depression, anxiety attacks, sleep problems, auto-immune diseases, weight problems, memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, negativity, anxiety, eating more or less, sleeping too much or too little, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities, substance abuse, nervous habits and many more can be attributed to modern day stress.
Even as I work with diverse individuals across various sections and categories of society, there is no doubt in my mind that stress lurks in the background and is the causative factor for subsequent behavioral and health challenges that arise.
Yet we are so busy – how do we drop the stress levels down while still getting our jobs done, taking care of ourselves and our families? The average busy person has no time for weeklong meditation retreats, mini-vacations, elaborate daily practices or weekly counseling sessions. So what can be done?
There are five easy and effortless things you can do. A few shifts in mindset together with a couple actions that take only a couple minutes. These won’t solve the most severe stress problems, but they’ll help most of us. Here they are –
Be. Just be completely in one task. Take your next, let everything else go, and just be in the moment with this one task. Be in the Now. Be in the present, fully aware and focussed on this one task. Let yourself be immersed in this one task, letting go of the feeling that you need to quickly rush through it, that you need to get on to the next task. There will always be a next task – the nature of task lists is that they’re neverending. So let those other tasks come later. Just be in this one task, as if that is all you need to do for now.
Walk. When things are getting stressful, take a 5-minute walk and clear your mind. A short walk does wonders. The walk is not for exercise, it’s to clear your head, switch the scene and focus on breathing. Even this little break can help lower your cortisol so your stress is lower.
Acceptance. We get upset at other people because they don’t meet our ideals of how they should act. Instead, try accepting them for who they are as they are, and recognizing that, just like you, they too are imperfect and fighting their own inner battles. Accept them, smile, and enjoy your time with this person.
Release. Let go of fear and control. It is not external factors like our job or family problems that is causing stress, it is our response to those situations. There is a hidden fear within us in coping with those situations. Those external things are just a part of life, but they become stressful when you fear failure, fear people won’t like you, fear you’re not good enough, fear abandonment, and so on. This fear is based on some ideal (and you fear not getting that ideal). These ideals are a way to be in control of a world that we don’t actually control, but these ideals cause fear and resultant stress. Instead, let go of control. Be OK with chaos and uncertainty, and trust that things will work out.
Mindfulness. You don’t have to meditate for an hour or 30 minutes to get the benefits of mindfulness. You can do a quick body scan (see how your body is feeling right now) in 10 seconds. You can pay attention to your breath for 30 seconds. You can watch your thoughts, fears, ideals for a minute. You can walk mindfully, paying attention to your body, your feet, your breath, your surroundings, as you walk. You can do each of these kinds of mindfulness practices in little bits throughout your day. Do short mindfulness practices and as your awareness of your self increases, you will notice yourself being far less stressed then before. I teach the Nirmiti Nidra technique which can be used very effectively and it takes only a few minutes each day.
Last but not the least, I see many people cope with stress with crutches such as substance abuse, unhealthy eating, outbursts of anger, long hours of television, procrastinating, etc. Ironically, these cause even more stress. Discard the crutches and stand on your own feet.
Author Bio: Rajesh Seshadri is the founder/creator of Nirmiti Nidra, evolved after a lengthy period of intermittent practice and experimentation with various techniques and an endeavor to combine the easiest and the best and derive maximum advantage. Unparalleled in its approach, simplicity and effectiveness, the basic Nirmiti Nidra program is offered free of cost to schools, institutions, communities and organizations. To know more visit http://www.rajeshseshadri.com or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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