Stress can be used as a driving force to solve any issue at hand. A lot depends on the way in which one perceives stress. Stress should be understood as a sign to prepare oneself to solve an existing problem so that it does not become a crisis later. It’s a clock's alarm; it should not be interpreted as a fire brigade's siren.
Here are a few tips to de-stress yourself.
■ Prioritise your work: If not on paper, set priority as per the urgency in your head. Two things to keep in mind while prioritising are— deadlines if any and your capacity to complete each task. If you are not working in a strictly formal setting then avoid comparing your speed with others. Every one has his/her own pace. Avoid planning things at night; it could give you sleepless nights. Rising a little early to make the priority list would be preferable.
Effect: Prioritising helps to keep at bay less urgent tasks and you feel sorted and less weighed down, instantly.
■ Remember, there are alternatives: In practice, you may choose the best goal to strive for or the best means to go about it. However, when the situation so demands, remember that there are always alternative ways to compensate for what you are not able to fulfill. It may be less satisfactory or less appropriate in your own opinion and in the mind of the other but nonetheless it is the second best possibility and may turn out to be the best in the long run. Console yourself when you fail and find out alternatives; there is always a way out.
Effect: Thinking alternative ways helps you minimise stress over failure.
■ Keep panic on hold: When panicky, remind yourself that the worse has already happened so what at the most you can do is to reduce the damage. Certainly panic leads to exaggerated panic. So yell, if you may, but later. For the moment, act to minimise the damage to yourself, people or property.
Effect: Keeping your calm saves at least a penny if not a treasure.
■ Be flexibile: Be flexible to switch between assertiveness, withdrawal, and compromise. Be assertive when you know that your demand/goal is realistic and reachable. If you reach a deadlock in a certain situation, settle for a compromise. Negotiate willingly and determine that you would not regret it later. When stress seemingly overruns/overpowers you, take no shame in withdrawing. Adopt the ‘grapes are sour’ attitude.
Effect: Flexibility is the master key to de-stress. It will unlock many doors.
■ Talk it out: If stress is due to strained relationship or is based on seemingly realistic expectations from each other, talking things out in as polite a manner as possible may help to an extent. Remember that inevitably both the parties need to compromise, change and sacrifice. The key lies in the attitude of determination and not domination.
Effect: It may not give you what you expect from the other, but it will help you understand better why there is strain in the relationship and how many of your expectations are in vain.
■ Faith and fight: Faith in oneself, life, a power, God can also help you feel de-stressed and at the same time inspire you to face the stress trigger once again. Guard yourself against being fatalistic or superstitious. Fight, you must but faith can heal the wounds of failure. Carl Jung, a prominent psychologist said, “The primary cause of unhappiness in the world is…lack of faith.”
Effect: Faith is not only a remedy to address stress but it could also be a step towards spirituality.
■ Sip coffee: When you have done your bit honestly, just sit back in your chair and sip a coffee. Let the disaster take care of itself.
Because truly, sometimes no amount of effort helps. All you can do is, accept the situation.
The Gita mentions, "You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action..." In other words, make an effort but don’t be attached to the fruits of your action. Strive and adopt a 'let go' attitude.
Effect: Either the philosophy or the coffee will certainly de-stress you.
Nilesh P Megnani is a professor of philosophy