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Updated: January 21, 2012 18:51 IST

Let go of stress

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Listen to your body... Photo: K.R. Deepak
The Hindu
Listen to your body... Photo: K.R. Deepak

Learn to recognise the symptoms and then work at finding solutions to deal with them.

Mala's day began at 6.00 a.m. After supervising the maids, she would get her son ready for school and leave for work. As an ad manager, her day involved meetings and setting new targets. She ended up working 16 hours a day with endless cups of tea, a sandwich at lunch and be exhausted by the time she got home. Dinner was a bowl of soup from a packet. Is Mala's life heading towards a disaster?

Yes, says fitness expert Deanne Panday. “She is heading towards stress and related problems.” In her recently-published book I'm not Stressed, Pandey shares secrets on how to tackle stress. She tells you what stress really means, how to know when you have a serious case of it and, most importantly, how to deal with it through a simple plan of diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, and breathing. “We need to get eight hours of sleep, eight hours of recreation and eight hours of work. When even one is tilted, problems can occur,” she adds.

Listen to your body

How does one realise if one is stressed? Panday explains, “You must learn to listen to your body. Lower back pain, loss of appetite, insomnia, bone aches, headaches are physical symptoms. Getting angry more often is also a sign of stress.” In his foreword to Panday's book, actor Shah Rukh Khan says, “Stress is the inability to deal with too many things at the same time.” King Khan has devised his own way of dealing with it. “The best stress buster is to play it down, whether through a   game, a workout, football or hockey. Instead of the work I'm supposed to do, I go out and play with the kids or have a game of football.”

Overwork leads to stress so the first step is to watch for the signs of being overworked. Psychologist Salma Prabhu says, “The first sign is lack of sleep followed by not finishing work on time and then errors. All this causes acidity and headaches, minor initially but later leading to heart disease and blood pressure. Loss of appetite or binge eating is another symptom. So are skin ailments like psoriasis, depression and anxiety.”

So how does one let go and avoid stress? First identify the triggers and set them right. “For instance, if the stress is due to work pressure, then one needs to identify whether it is a bad boss, time management issues or lack of capability. Then monitor and seek help to cope. Systematic desensitisation is a technique used for phobias and anxiety. The anxiety level in stress is very high. So the patient is asked to relive a situation in the mind and then led through progressive muscular relaxation. He/she learns to relax and cope with a stressful thought or situation. Letting go of stress is not easy. Some individuals who have personality disorders like OCD are perfectionists and not only experience stress themselves but also are the cause of stress in others.”

Seek a solution

Not many realise how eating patterns change when one is stressed. Dietician and nutritionist Dr Sujata Udeshi says, “Stress comes in many forms so one can beat it with diet. The best choices are foods rich in anti-oxidants like fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy oils and grains. Include plenty of green vegetables and yellow orange fruits. A fistful of nuts is another good option. Whole grains and pulses are a must but those with weak digestion must avoid them. Say no to oily and fried food and fermented and processed foods.”

Prabhu advises, “Ideally don't wait for the stress to build up to a level where one has to cope. When one has a passion and is pursuing it, that itself is an inbuilt coping mechanism. Every individual has his/her own coping mechanism. Some work out, some listen to music, while others just chat.”

Stress busters: Exercise, Meditation, Yoga, Sleep, Prayer, Walking, Music, Watching a movie, Dancing



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