You are back to the daily grind after that much-needed year-end break and a new year full of hope and aspirations awaits. With catching up on work emails, meeting deadlines, fulfilling personal commitments, trying to keep the New Year resolutions on track, and making time for yourself and your loved ones, a lot is probably going on to keep you occupied. We won’t be surprised if all of this may be making you feel stressed. Before you lose your calm, read this.
All of us experience stress to some degree occasionally but it is our response that determines how it is affecting our mind and body. Zee Zest spoke to two health and wellness experts — Dr Sudha Nair, naturopath, yogi, and lifestyle coach at Dharana at Shillim, and Nidhi Nahata, a psychologist, sound healer, and founder, Justbe Resto Café — to find out simple yet effective ways to destress.
But first, let’s learn about stress
In technical terms, Dr Nair describes stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances, which can cause profound changes in the body.” Stress can arise in the body in many ways, and for a variety of reasons — from family dynamics to peer pressure, life expectations, financial troubles, and even, diseases and ailments.
There are three common types of this state that people must be aware of — acute (caused due to short-term events), episodic (caused due to short-term but repetitive events), and chronic (caused due to ongoing life events, changes, or illness, that last long-term).
Everyone has their own way of reacting and responding to this state. While stress is inevitable, one can control its effect and impact by managing it better. Some people may thrive under pressure, but many others may cripple under the tension. But the physiological changes that happen are the same for every person, says Dr Sudha.
A few examples of our body’s physiological response to stress are increased heart rate, altered PH levels, quickened breathing, heart palpitations, stomach cramps, hair fall, nausea, cold sweats, and in extreme long-term cases, cardiovascular and immunity problems.
7 expert-approved ways to deal with stress:
Stress triggers a ‘fight-or-flight’ response in our body and meditation influences exactly the opposite of it — relaxation. If you haven’t experienced the power of meditation yet, you must know that this practice helps to calm our mind and body, and aids in focusing and achieving clarity in thought. For beginners, it is suggested to opt for guided meditation, where a pre-recorded voice guides you through the entire session. It is suggested that you practice meditation for 10-15 minutes daily.
2. Pranayama (breathing exercise)
Deep breathing is a great way to reduce the activation of your sympathetic nervous system, according to the experts. This system controls our body’s response to a perceived threat. Try Anulomvilom or Brahmari pranayama to help cope with stress since these exercises may calm your mood, improve focus, and sleep, and facilitate anger management.
The sheer number of tasks that you must perform in a day and the deadlines you must meet may easily cause stress. Take a step back, breathe, and list all those tasks on a paper or note-taking app. Now go through these tasks one by one, divide them on the basis of priority, and work on a time management strategy to help you complete each task. With each task getting checked off the list, you’ll notice yourself feeling calmer and more composed.
4. Drink water
Never underestimate the power of a glass of water. Apart from quenching your thirst, water is known to possess calming properties. So, ensure you drink water liberally throughout the day. How many glasses are ideal though? You can find out here and know more about the benefits of drinking water.
5. Sleep well
No matter what your age, getting a good night’s sleep — approximately seven to eight hours — is essential for the body to relax and rejuvenate. Nahata points out, “According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, adults who slept less than eight hours a day reported higher levels of stress than those who got their full quota of sleep per day.” Another important point is to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock) by following set timings for sleeping and waking up. ‘Early to bed, early to rise’ – it is that simple.
6. Eat right
What we eat affects our body and mind. Long-term stress can inhibit our body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients properly. This can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency. To avoid that, one must follow a nutrient-dense diet. Following a high-fibre diet has been linked to lower levels of stress and increased alertness.
7. Meet friends and family
It is as simple as it reads — spend some quality time talking to your loved ones, people with whom you are at ease. Having people you love around may help release serotonin and oxytocin, which are the body’s feel-good hormones.