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Managing Stress in Daily Life

Managing Stress in Daily Life
Stress

    How many people do you meet who complain of being totally stressed out and tired all the time? Do you also feel that you are tired and fatigued most of the times and do not have time for yourself?

    In this fast paced life, one of the highest complaints that people have is about the fact that they are tensed or disturbed about some thing or the other. The cause of stress could be deadlines at work, finances to pay the bills, catching up with colleagues in terms of lifestyle or a tense relationship at home.

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    Though it has been agreed by all experts that a certain amount of stress is required to add that little bit of spice to life and also to enable you to perform to the best of your capabilities, prolonged levels of high stress can cause physiological and mental issues. It can manifest itself in illnesses like recurrent headaches, upset stomach, rashes, ulcers, sleeplessness, high blood pressure and heart related ailments.

    But given that there is merit in a certain amount of merit the idea is not to get rid of stress completely. Which is why in most of the information that you read, people talk about ‘stress management’ and not ‘stress elimination’.

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    The first step towards managing your stress levels better is to be cognizant of the various stimuli that that stress you. These could be situations, environments, people or expectation. This initial part of managing stress is of extreme importance since there are different things that stress different people. Some people can work well under pressure and a structured and less challenging environment may cause them frustration. And then there are others who prefer to work in a company that has a process orientation. There could also be certain people who criticize you whenever you meet them and so an impending meeting could also be the cause of stress.

    Once you have identified your stress situations and people, you need to think about whether you can change the stimulus or not. For example, if your stressor is a close relative of yours, you may not be able to avoid meeting them completely. But you may be in a position to limit them to only family gatherings that may happen only a couple of times a year. If your boss at the workplace stresses you out, there may be no way in which you can avoid him on a daily basis.

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    When such a situation occurs, you should then try and evaluate if you can check your response towards the stress-causing stimuli. If your uncle is bent upon criticizing your business ventures and harps about the lack of success that you have had, you can choose to ignore the comment rather than trying to rationalize your attempts vehemently.

    Trying to change your response may not be an easy thing to do if you feel strongly about something. But this is where changing your perspective helps. Take one step back and look at the whole situation from another person’s point of view. Does it really matter whether your uncle thinks highly of your ventures? Is it so important that you try and please every person whom you meet? Expecting the moon from yourself is also not a fair thing to do. No one is perfect and each person has his or her own faults. Rather it is more prudent to be practical and expect what is possible and achievable. If you set goals that are too high to be achieved, there is bound to be frustration and stress. And even then, if you feel you have the ability to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself, give yourself time to achieve them. Minor setbacks on the way are inevitable and these should not be considered as setbacks but stepping-stones to success.

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    Lastly, if you are already stressed out due to some reason or the other try some of the relaxation techniques. Some of the various techniques that you can try out are

    • Correct breathing
    • Taking time out
    • Listening to music
    • Yoga
    • Laughter therapy
    • Meditation
    • Acupuncture and acupressure
    • Progressive relaxation
    • Exercise and stretching techniques
    • Self-suggestion
    • Diet management
    • Massage

    Last but not the least, try and be around people who are happy and jovial all the time. If you spend time with people who have a negative perspective towards life, you are also likely to find that you are cribbing all the time. But appreciate the gifts that have been bestowed on you and look at life in a more carefree way and you will realize that suddenly life has actually become carefree and easy.

    Vishal P. Rao shares his insights and tips on stress management at Relishing Life.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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