Stretch Carefully To Manage Stress
We all have used a rubber band sometime on a mithaidabba, a rolled chart, or to tie a bag of goodies. The elasticity of the rubber band makes it useful for us since it can stretch and take the strain but not beyond its capacity after which it snaps and breaks! Each one of us too has our own individual capacity to handle the demands made on us. We too stretch to manage the expectations of others and our own self, stay ahead of competition in the cut throat business world, sort out conflicts, overcome traumatic events, cope with comparisons and negative thoughts and emotions… but for how long? And is stress good?
The level of stress which propels us into action and energizes us to give our 100% is the good and healthy Eustress; but beyond tolerance level when the pressure paralyzes an individual, it is the negative and harmful Distress. But good or bad stress, we are in agreement, that none of us wants to snap and have a breakdown or burnout?
A high achiever CEO in his early thirties addressed a press conference and shared his secret of success with the reporters: he worked for inhumanly long hours each day including weekends, which made him reach the zenith. Shockingly, the same CEO committed suicide later during the evening! The reason was that reaching home that day he discovered his wife had left him since she felt neglected, lonely, and felt the relationship was not working out.
The CEO was an amazingly high performer at work, but proved to be an utter failure in personal space. He could not tolerate defeat, and quit completely – a sad case of work life imbalance. A person may respond through fight, flight, or freeze reactions when faced with stressful circumstances—the CEO resorted to the second option, unfortunately.
WHO reports show that every second a life is lost through suicide worldwide; the most stressed out women in the world are Indian women, revealed Nielson’s in their report ‘Women of Tomorrow’; 41-50% employees of India Inc are under stress; 30% develop addictions and marital discord; 20% suffer from depression!!! The pertinent fact is that when we know through experience that even a machine as our own laptop starts behaving erratically, becomes slow in processing our commands when we do not shut down for a considerable time-then what are we waiting for? Awaken and act now to counter stress.
Insomnia, hypersomnia, tearfulness, sudden lack of interest or enthusiasm, irritability, loss of appetite, sweating of palms, nightmares, are some of the warning signals which should set off the alarm signal in our lives. We need to identify the cause of stress in the initial Alarm or Resistance stage itself and nip it in the bud, rather than slipping to the dangerous point of no return in the Exhaustion stage.
It is crystal clear that since stress is caused due to imbalance of varying types-physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, professional-the panacea lies in creating balance. How? Some of the ‘quick fix’ techniques prescribed by most experts or trainers are: breathe deeply, drink few glasses of water, distract the mind by watching a movie or listening to music or shopping, socialize, laugh-but these suppress stress momentarily.
One of the participants in our Training Program on Stress Management for top management of a finance company asked, “Krishna advised Arjun that since expectations are the root cause of stress, have no expectations, and stress shall cease to exist. (i) Is it true? Is it possible not to have expectations? (ii) How do I develop such a habit in myself? (iii) And if I don’t have expectations from my subordinates, how will I get the work done?” We answered, “(i) In which sloka of Bhagwad Gita is it mentioned? In this era of social media revolution a lot of incorrect information too is circulated. But, as guided by our peer and spiritual guide BrahmchariSurenderRawatji, sloka 2.47 does recommend to lose ourselves in work and productive activities, without attachment to their results. This helps us break the traditional barriers of motivation and efficiency and we move into zone of extraordinary performance based on inspiration:
Excessive focus on ends, not means; on performance reports, not performance itself, creates stress. We tend to escape the dynamics of ‘present’ and pursue the ‘future’ alone. (ii)To ‘reset the radar’ habit with focus on ourselves, some effective techniques are meditation for daily alignment and recharge, Ho’oponopono to ‘let go’, Jin Ji Du Li for synchronization of internal organs, Managing Self to utilize time optimally, and Thought Management for blissful living. (iii) Management is the art of getting work done through other people by willing cooperation-so have realistic expectations from subordinates. Everyone has different capabilities and competence levels; so delegate responsibilities accordingly. Do not expect mangoes from an apple tree. These are a few practical insights which will help in managing stress.
On a cold winter night, we may decide to go out with old friends and have a reasonable cup of coffee at RTDC’s Gauri or an expensive cup of cappuccino at CCD. Often, the ambience or the brand does not make any difference to the taste or quality of the coffee. Life is like coffee. The quality of life we live does not change with outer symbols like a bigger house, a higher designation, or a luxury car. Nothing wrong in being ambitious, but problem starts with unleashed desires leading to desperation, and constant unhealthy comparison with others-which also causes stress. Enjoy the coffee, that is life, by stretching carefully and balancing your priorities-and manage stress effectively. All the best. The authors are corporate trainers.