A Buddhist monk once said, “If a problem can be solved, why worry? And if it cannot be solved, what’s the good of worrying?”
Wise words, but admittedly difficult to practice. Problems are inevitable, and they cause stress. And stress can contribute to serious health conditions.
Like everyone else on the planet, I have my stressful days and moments. Finding ways to deal with them has taught me how to sift the useful tips from the less effective ones. Let me share some stress-relief strategies that really work for me:
1. Wait it out.
I can never forget what my father said while battling a bout of flu. “I am enjoying it,” he said, red-nosed but smiling. “It’s nothing but the body’s channels cleansing themselves. Another two days, and I’ll be fine!” This, when he had work deadlines he could not miss.
Another time, when I lay bedridden from multiple fractures, my surgeon gently told me the secret to dealing with the depression: “Think of the pain as a tunnel that you are slowly swimming through. At the end of that tunnel, there is light. Power yourself toward that light.” The image helped me tremendously. Stress will happen. Let it come and go. Hang in there!
2. Walk away.
When it comes to stress, don’t indulge in give-and-take, because stress can be contagious. It rubs off on others around you. And if somebody around you is stressed, the effects can ruin your own mood and day. When I feel a stressful situation developing, I try to move physically away from the scene and situation for a while. I am a book lover, so a trip to a bookstore always calms me. Sometimes, I go watch a movie, or just take a nice walk. If things are really stressful, you might consider a solo vacation. Nature offers a comforting shoulder indeed.
3. Analyze your anger.
It is easy to feel stressed when someone is saying harsh, hurtful words to you. And it is indeed difficult to put yourself in the other person’s shoes at that moment. But if you can teach yourself to empathize, you could let go of the intense negative feelings that stress brings. Remember, when someone says things that are painful for you to hear, it is likely that he is also feeling much of the pain he is inflicting. Here is a good reminder from writer William Arthur Ward: ”It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.”
4. Use humor.
A good laugh fills your lungs with fresh, oxygen-rich air and releases feel-good endorphins into your system. The result: you feel instantly better. When stress comes knocking, treat yourself to some episodes of Candid Camera, a Marx Brothers movie, or a stand-up comedy show—nothing works like a hearty dose of laughter. Shared laughter is even better, so take a friend or two along. Your stresses will have no choice but to melt quietly away!
5. Pamper your body.
This is my favorite way to deal with stress. Over the years, I have noticed how easily the body responds to a little TLC. A quick trim and blow-dry or facial massage are enough to take your mind off your stress. Checking into a good day spa or a spa resort over the weekend not only revitalizes your tired body, but also rejuvenates the unhappy mind. You emerge feeling more confident, energetic, and ready to take on the world. Massage, in particular, reduces muscle tension and improves blood circulation. A trained therapist knows and works on the right marma points, thus aligning the body’s healing energies to make you feel better.
What are your own strategies for dealing with stress? Do share!