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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 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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