Positive Pause Part 2
So therapy isn’t the solution, it just helps guide you to solutions and sustain those. What else can help manage stress? Let’s address that, but before I go ahead, I must share something the therapist said to me. He said he hadn’t imagined that HR could also have stress, after all, what do they even do? 😄 I really had to laugh here, because in fact I also enjoy those HR Rangoli jokes. Think about it, how can people making rangoli be stressed. It’s very callous to place that responsibility on someone, “oh you’re HR, you have to make workplace a happier place, how can you be stressed.” Well, we do a lot more. Sometimes, we even help save lives. But not divulging trade secrets, on to the ways of managing stress.
- As can be seen in part 1, it’s stress-reducing to even merely admit that you’re hurting because of that particular stressor. That can be the first step. And it doesn’t require any greater insight, just stop hiding your own feelings from yourself.
- You can decrease your stress by ensuring adequate amounts of the following in your life/work — control, predictability, social support, outlets for frustration.
- A novel activity is generally stressful till it becomes a habit. So whatever it is about your work that you feel scared of, afraid to do, stress-inducing, do it again and again and again, till it becomes kind of usual.
- Exercise. At least 20–30min a day, few times a week. Exercise helps produce endorphins is common knowledge. But a word of caution here, exercise reduces stress only if it’s something you actually want to do. Forcing someone to exercise will surely increase their stress and worsen their health.
- Meditation actually results in changes in your body. it’s not just sitting with your eyes closed and imagining it’s reaping some benefits. It reduces your glucocorticoid (stress hormone) levels, sympathetic tone (fight or flight response), lowers BP etc. I meditated one time with a guru, guided meditation; and it was like someone had done magic on me. My paining limbs were rested as if I’d had a good sleep. That was ages ago, been wanting to take up meditation ever since, but there’s only so much time in one’s life when you work 6 days a week. But excuses apart, will surely comment more on meditation once I’ve inculcated this habit. 🙂
- One important last point I would like to add here. While in the first point I mentioned getting more control is healthier for you, reduces stress. This also comes with a word of caution. You shouldn’t believe that everything is under your control. If you’re in a crazy situation, some man-made or natural disaster, better not believe that you had some control over the outcome. This will lead you into a negative spiral of “I could’ve done something more.” Don’t be mentally trapped by this. Sometimes it’s ok to admit that you did your best, rest was actually out of your control.
Now that I’ve listed a couple of things you can do to reduce stress, don’t start stressing over reducing stress. Dr Sapolsky beautifully sums up the book with the following (which I will honestly admit, that on a scale of 1–10, I’m probably at a 3.5 on this, but trying to implement step-by-step):
In the face of strong winds, let me be a blade of grass;
In the face of strong wall, let me be a gale of wind.
Be flexible. Don’t try to overly resist any situation, sometimes even a stressor. Practise the above, but at your own will, not as a ‘must’ in life. I have heard a guru say once, be like water, harsh when need be, after all it has the power to cut rocks, but flexible, flowing, transparent, clear.