What caught my attention this week was an article in a leading publication about How healthy is India Inc? Not surprisingly it stated that stress is the number one Killer amongst people working in India Inc and it has reached an all time high due to the extreme poor lifestyle habits of most of the executives working in companies across India.
Lets accept that Stress is indeed a major problem for many people and helping the cause more is a stressful job,chaotic home life and bills to worry about. Bad habits such as unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking will only add to the mountain of stress.
If your life is full of stress, like mine once was not long ago, there are some simple things you can do to get your life to a more manageable level.
Now, both of us do know that your life will probably never be stress-free. I don’t think that’s desirable, even if it is possible, because stress is something that challenges and helps us grow. However, it should always be only at a reasonable level. When stress gets out of control , it causes us to be unhappy, unhealthy and in a worst case scenario may lead to depression(which is incidentally the Number 1 problem identified in executive health check-ups as per latest research updates)
It wasn’t that long ago when I was working long hours in a very stressful job with little time for myself or my family. I was smoking, eating unhealthy foods and not exercising at all. I was unhappy and stressed out most the time. Added to this I could barely sleep for 4-5 hours.Sounds familiar well i would not have survived for too long ,if not some drastic change in my lifestyle and i did make some drastic changes. I quit my job. I simplified my life. I quit smoking and started exercising and eating healthier. I began to eliminate my debt. I learnt on the way that some simple habits when applied on a daily consistent basis can really transform the way you live in a positive way. That is why you see the Tag Line in my Web site is – “Helping Transform Lives”.
How did I do all of this? One simple thing at a time. I didn’t do a major re haul of my life. I changed one habit in a month or two and gradually over the course of a year or two changed a lot of things in my life.
I won’t guarantee that all of these will work for you. They worked for me but each person is different. Pick and choose the ones that will work best for you, and give them a try. Remember prevention is always better than cure.
One thing at a time: This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress and you can start this today right now. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Clear your desk of distractions. Pick something to work on. Need to write a report? Do only that. Remove distractions such as phones and email notifications while you’re working on that report. If you’re going to do email, do only that. This takes practice and you’ll get urges to do other things since Multitasking is the norm now . Just keep practicing and you’ll get better at it. When I was working on a report or at times chairing meetings I used to focus only on that and nothing else. It worked for me and I do not see any reason why it should not for you.
Simplify your schedule: A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Simplify by reducing the number of commitments in your life to “just the bare essential ones”. Learn to say NO to the rest and slowly get out of commitments that aren’t beneficial to you. Schedule only a few important things each day and put enough space between them. Get out of meetings when they aren’t absolutely essential. Leave the room for some “you time “even if it is for a couple of minutes and this will take your mind away from the discussion in the Board/conference room for a small amount of time. I realised that it does make a big difference at the end of the day when you do walk out of the Exit door.
Get moving: Do something each day to be active – walk, swim, play a sport, go for a run or do yoga. It doesn’t have to be gruelling but just enough to reduce stress. Just move. If you park yourself for too long in your comfortable chair you not only tend to put on more weight but also be more like a “horse with blinders” by being fixated with only the issue in front of you. Most of the times when I walked around at work, I used to get some brilliant solutions for pressing issues which used to try its best to stress me out.
Develop one healthy habit this month: Other than getting active, improving your overall health will help with the stress drastically. Do it one habit at a time. Eat fruits and veggies for snacks. . Quit smoking and drinking . Cook something healthy for breakfast or dinner. Drink water instead of soft drinks and most importantly eat on time and less quantity.
Do something calming: What calms you down? for me it was playing some nice background music. By playing very light music in the background(of course it should never disturb your co-worker), it calms one’s mind. I am not sure but music is the one thing I have noticed which tends to have a soothing and calming effect even with plants and animals. Well what is important here is to try and identify what positive activity calms you down. Try and do it for a couple of times in a day.
Simplify your finances: Finances can be a drain on your energy and a major stressor. If that’s true with you, figure out ways to simplify things. Automate savings, bill and debt payments. Spend less on shopping (at malls or even online) Find ways to have fun that doesn’t involve spending money at all. You will be amazed with the things you can do right now by not spending anything at all.
Declutter: This is a favourite of mine. I like to take 20-30 minutes and just go through a room to get rid of stuff that I don’t use or need anymore. I look around at anything that’s cluttering up a room and get rid of it or find a better place for it. When I’m done I have a nice and peaceful environment for work, play, and a living. Do this a little bit at a time — it can be one of your “fun activities”. Sometimes I use the same principal of decluttering things in my mind by the same logic and it works magically.
Be early: I will admit that it’s hard to be early in this traffic and road conditions. However, being late can be very stressful. Try to leave earlier by getting ready earlier or by scheduling more space between events. Things always take longer than normal. Therefore schedule some buffer time: extra time to get ready, to commute and to do errands before you need to attend a meeting or a scheduled appointment. If you reach early, always remember to carry some reading material(no not on the smart phone or the iPad). Read a book or a magazine as it is always soothing and calming to turn physical pages.
How do you manage to keep stress at a bare minimum? Have you developed some tricks up your sleeve. Do share your thoughts with me and my readers in the comment section below or on my Face book Fan page https://www.facebook.com/B.N.Satishrao
And by the way, if you or someone whom you do know is going through Life being stressed, living an unhealthy life and most importantly looking for the keys to change over, then am sure you know which direction you can point them towards.