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Preparing Ahead

How to deal with stress

By Tara Cabullo, Brighterlife.com.ph

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Three years ago, I was the chill-est, most zen person I knew. I was not fazed by deadlines and by firefighting, what with cracks that fall through out of nowhere, personal or otherwise. In a typical day, I have been known to throw witty one-liners {rather mundane, really} to break tensions. If you see me in the halls of my office, ask me about this and I’ll gladly tell you my famous distorted versions of Disney fairytales.

But somewhere between the laundry list of things to do in a day, the piling responsibilities, the pressures of living alone, the creative bursts and call of passion, I have fallen prey to the unavoidable: Stress.

Photo used under Creative Commons from RelaxingMusic

Photo used under Creative Commons from RelaxingMusic

I used to think that I had a built-in immunity to stress. After all, all I had to do was take a break at the nearby coffee shops, plug in my iPod and listen to French tunes or indulge in a gargantuan tub of ice cream until I succumb to brain freeze and forget about the discombobulating feeling.

I remember our family doctor lecturing my grams a few years ago when she got mild brain stroke, in his Chinese accent, “Patricia, stop stressing already! You think about everything! That’s what I tell my patients, everything is just from stress!” I remember my lola adapting a zen lifestyle, scented candles and yoga and all.

It has been a little more than ten years then, and today, my lola can still drive through Manila traffic anytime she pleases and remain chill through it all.

More Bad than Good

True, stress can do us good: it can push us off our La-Z Boys and kick off the procrastination. True, it’s a ‘good bacteria’ to throw into the mix of our daily schedules. However stress drives us to give in to exorbitant bingeing {guilty as charged!}, mental exhaustion and crankiness. Worse than these, too much stress can affect our overall health and may escalate to dangerous illnesses such as high blood pressure, insomnia, manic depression, heart failure, circulatory problems, diabetes or worse, cancer.

Some Tips to Ponder On

My ways of battling stress were not gathered from medical books but rather, life experiences, some pilfered from people I interact with, wisdom from strangers and many an hour spent devouring Mind Body Green. How to deal?

1. Single-task. Nothing sparks stress faster than a brain working twice as hard and on two different planes. In the world of BBMs, instant updates on Facebook and text messages at lightning speed, we can’t help but evolve into an ADD {Attention Deficit Disorder} version of ourselves. One moment, we are typing happily on a blank Word document, the next minute, we’re trying to finish a Powerpoint presentation, the third, we’re replying to a distressed colleague’s Sametime message —- all these while singing to Lady Gaga’s Born this Way.

Something to try: As you look at your daily to dos, make sure you tackle each one at a time, breaking them down in bite-size portions, if possible. In the morning, do not let all your looming tasks cloud you with a collective heavy feeling. Instead, focus on your three most important tasks and when you perform them, no cheating! Do them one at a time. Rinse. Repeat. 

2. Get moving. Before I have discovered the wonders of daily doses of endorphins, I remember feeling sluggish as I haul myself going to school back in college. As I entered the corporate world, daily morning runs {I only spared 30 minutes, I am not a sporty person at all} did wonders to my disposition and overall mindset. When science and lifestyle magazines and Elle Woods said that endorphins made people happy, they weren’t kidding! I have since then added muay thai kick boxing for a while to my regimen but mostly thirty minutes of running in the morning did the trick for me.

Something to try: If strapping on your running kicks in the morning is too much for you, try doing some stretches on a mat as soon as you wake up. If you have some fitness equipment lying in your home gathering dust, it’s about time to revisit them and get your ROI from it, too. Give in to that colleague who’s been bugging you to try yoga. Or join the company’s Wii tourney. Soon, your body will be craving for more exercise and sprints wouldn’t feel as much as a chore to you.

3. Have a Sunny Disposition. Nothing says ‘I’m stressed’ louder than a grumpy face, hunched eyebrows and/or a poker face. The Mayo Clinic Staff reports that having a sunny disposition gives benefits such as increased life span, lower rates of depression, forgivable stress levels and better coping skills to hardships, among many others.

Something to try: When a co-worker quips about something incredibly funny during lunch break {not to be confused with demeaning}, do not resist the urge to express a real belly laugh. When a co-worker exercises behavior you do not like, or expresses opinion you do not agree with, resist the urge to come up with a great comeback. Instead, find it in you to do the nicest thing you can: and just be nice. I have certainly learned this was extremely hard {most of the time I am consumed with evil thoughts, but hey, it’s much easier, really, to be just kind}, but proved to be very rewarding in the end.

4. Sleep. As we age, we discover more things to do, more things to buy {hello, bigger purchasing power}, more places to explore and more relationships to cultivate. However, while the Internet may make things and truths disappear {such as eight hour work hours, who’s heard of that?}, our need for adequate sleep hours will never do.

Something to try: Stop using that laptop on your bed, the bed is for sleeping. Also, with the advent of smartphones, {hello, fellow iPhone addicts!}, mandate yourself to stop tweeting at the wee hours or watching on your O Player just before snoozing. The Internet is all sorts of evil before sleeping, try to stay away from it during your bed time.

What are your ways on how to deal with stress? Share with us in the comments section.

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