Three ways to de-stress

In today’s stressful world, it is very easy to get caught up in the whirlpool of stress even with the slightest external provocation. It is partly a commentary on our personality and partly a definition of our external world. The latter is something that is more often out of our sphere of control whereas the former is where we can make some changes to bail ourselves out of challenging situations. I will discuss three effective ways, which I practice,  to handle stress in my daily life. I practice one form or the other with good results. A caution though is that if you have been diagnosed with an underlying medical condition, you should consult your medical practitioner.

Stress is caused by our reaction to something unraveling in front of us or in our mind. It could take one of the following forms. An argument with a loved one, challenging discussion with a colleague, running into the metaphorical wall during a creative process, reacting to a mentally disturbing picture unfolding before us, etc.

    1. Quiet reflection / Meditation : I am obviously biased because I just finished a 30-day challenge. The key to overcoming stress is to be able to step out of a situation and be able to objectively assess it for what its worth. Meditation is the most non-judgmental way of assessing the situation and let go off any emotional steam that may have gathered in our mind. It takes as little as 2-5 minutes of mindfully focusing on something as simple as our breath can make us relaxed.
    2. Power Poses : I recently came across a talk by Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, about something she calls “Power Poses”. She has extensively researched on power poses and came up with a few power poses. Her talk can be found at Amy Cuddy Power Poses Video. It is very well known the increase in testosterone causes us to perform better in any given challenging situation whereas increase in cortisol levels causes us a lot of stress. She discovered that as little as 2 minutes of power posing can raise testosterone levels and reduce cortisol levels in humans. She has even authored an interesting book which goes in more detail at Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. Fascinating research.
    3. Flee the scene :  As funny as it may sound, just walk out of a stressful situation and get some sun and fresh air. A little bit of physical exercise such as walking or yoga does add to the positive vibe. Ideally, get some sun and oxygen. A little bit of Vitamin D does wonders for me. There was a lot of research done on this. Sometimes when we are tired, all we need a break away from stress.

I would have done my part even if one of you can benefit from these tips.

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