When was the last time you felt stress? How did you respond to it? When was the first time you felt stress? Do you remember the reason? Stress has always been part and parcel of my life. I feel the way I have responded at various points during my life journey to the same kind of triggers has been different. Also, each stage of life has also come up with different kinds of stress.
In school, some teachers especially the History teacher used to ask questions based on the previous day’s class. (I used to hate History then, but now I love to know more and more about it.) We the children used to sit in these classes with high adrenaline levels! Also, there were some special classes in the curriculum like knitting, sports, and so on. I feel those were meant for giving children a break from the usual academic subjects for them to relax. But in reality, those teachers used to be very strict, and we could neither relax nor did it feel like a break.
During college days, the stress levels used to be very high on the exam eve! But often stress could make me more productive and creative too. Assignment writing on the previous day of a submission date is an apt example for this scenario! 🙂
During my IT career, the stress graph was like a sine wave. Mostly, it depended upon the phase of the project I was working on. Software builds becoming unsuccessful (also called breaking the build) was the most common cause for stress associated with any software release. Achieving work-life balance was almost impossible in those days especially because the kids were in school then! And the maid’s casual leaves used to add fuel to the fire!
Now in midlife, the major stressors are my adult kids. An example is my daughter travelling alone. Since she has to travel around 2 hours to reach the airport, I am always on my toes on her travel day. I call her up about 10 to 20 times to remind her of almost everything. Even then she missed her flight twice. Once she had to sit in the airport the whole night to catch the next day’s morning flight. If my son is late from work without prior information, I get all tensed up.
I have read many articles about de-stressing techniques. There are some foods that can help us to reduce stress such as banana, green leafy vegetables, carrots, nuts, yogurt, milk, and dark chocolate. It’s better to avoid caffeine if you’re stressed, and have green tea instead. If you ask Google, you would get ‘n’ number of ways to de-stress.
I will share some of the techniques which I started practising recently:
- Colouring: Colouring isn’t just for kids! It’s a fun and creative way to be mindful and de-stress. Colouring allows me to switch off from other thoughts and focus only on the moment. I am really enjoying it. It seems anxiety levels decline when we colour complex geometric patterns. When I went to the stationery shop to buy a colouring book and crayons, I was taking too much time to decide on which book to select. Seeing this, the shopkeeper asked me the age of my kid to help me select. When I said it was for me, he was taken aback!
- Walking barefoot: It is also called ‘earthing’. I practise this at least 10 minutes daily. My maternal grandpa during his last years used to walk barefoot as prescribed by his Ayurvedic physician to improve his cardiovascular health. The intense negative charge carried by the Earth is electron-rich. It serves as a good supply of antioxidants and free-radical destroying electrons. For me walking barefoot is more than just exercise; it is a form of healing. It removes stress replacing it with well-being on every level.
- Listening to motivational speeches by a Guru: I usually listen to Youtube videos of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha Yoga Centre.
- Closing the eyes for 5 minutes (please don’t do it if you’re driving): This is the best first aid I give to myself. Sometimes I’ll count from 1 to 10 too!
- Drawing ‘mandalas’: This is a de-stressing technique which really caught my attention. The literal meaning of the word is ‘circle’. A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in the Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. It represents the universe.
I used to doodle similar figures in my college days when I got bored with lectures. I was relieving stress then without knowing about mandalas! 🙂
BTW have you heard about ‘eustress’? The Greek prefix ‘eu-‘ means ‘good’. It is a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health and emotional well-being. Many a time either at work or at leisure we do something that requires effort beyond our comfort zone, but we feel excited or challenged in a good way. The stress we feel then is called eustress.
Some of the examples of positive, personal stressors include:
- Learning a new hobby
- Riding a rollercoaster
- Meeting or engaging in a challenge
- Physical exercise like biking, running, weight-training
- Playing sports
- Taking a vacation
- Starting a new job
Of course, the above examples depend on how an individual perceives the stress. They say eustress is actually necessary for a balanced and exciting life and without it, our lives would be pretty dull. Last week, I enrolled in a theatre workshop. My son was compelling me to join the workshop for the past one year. But I was very hesitant about it. Though I was quite nervous on the first day, I am enjoying every bit of it now. My inhibitions started disappearing one by one after each activity session. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted 🙂
BTW, what would you usually do if you are stressed out? Have you ever tried eustress for de-stressing?
Happy empty nesting 🙂
When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles can happen. ~ Arland Gilbert