Does this picture depict an entrance to a restricted zone? Does it indicate the pathway to nirvana? Or does it seem like some idealistic dream? Is stress free a real state of being, a distinct possibility? Or is beyond the grasp of most of us mortals who have our hands, minds and hearts filled with so many to-do’s, so many expectations, so many pressures or insecurities coming out from our career, family, relationships, kids, their academics, financial and ego needs to stay ahead or even from past baggage?
Coming closer home to my own practices and experiences over the last 3 decades and how I have shaped myself around trying to stay calm and keep stress levels to the minimum by following some of these basic principles, here are a few tips to make the mind drift and sniff deep when you connect with any of them.
- Maintain a discipline and uniformity in whatever you do, be it wake up time, sleep time, meal time, how much you eat or drink, what you eat or drink – respect your body.
- Maintain a healthy approach to exercise and fitness be it a walk, yoga or whatever works for you like hitting the gym or jogging or cycling or dancing – but do it at least 4 times a week to feel good about yourself. For me walking more than 5 times is great l, less sometimes is also cool!
- Try a relaxation technique like deep breathing or meditation or prayer. In my case it’s been a combo of all of them for over 30 years daily without fail. It’s a sure shot way to stay calm and fresh till the end of a long day. Just try and make more ME time every day – it’s so energizing.
- Take short breaks away from the routine at least 3 times a year– like in my recent 4 day break at a beach resort the only agenda was not to have an agenda! And it felt so very wonderful not having to think of what to do and to just go with the flow. The only agenda if at all was to plan the next break!
- Be ambitious, aim high, set high career and personal goals but work towards it in a planned and focused manner and not in a knee jerk, quick fix approach that is guaranteed to make you fail more often than succeed and stress you out! Stretching yourself towards your goals is also fun. Often having someone who understands you well to challenge and push you along the journey helps.
- Accept the ups and downs in life as a learning experience and very rarely is it a smooth, straight ride to the top. Climbing steps briskly is easier than trekking along an unknown path or climbing a hillside without too much of practice. But do go off the beaten track too sometime.
- Grow in life by treating everyone with respect, not by politicking or trampling over the less fortunate or peers and juniors at work or otherwise just because that option exists. Be humble and down to earth, it’s so much better and brings you respect.
- Compete with yourself and stop competing with others be it on designation, cars, house, paychecks, bonuses, holidays, life style. Be happy and grateful with what you have. Best way for peace of mind.
- Connect with groups that you connect with over the years – family, school or college alumni, ex colleagues, prayer groups …and cultivate those relationships– there is a common bond there going back many, many years and that can be a huge source of strength and support and laughter when you recall the good old times.
- Roll back the years at times, think young, feel young, act young, pull someone’s leg, have fun. Who cares if you have grey hair, no hair or look prosperous girth wise at least. Being able to laugh at oneself and make others laugh along is a great way to stay young in spirit.
- Ensure enough money for financial security for the family, but do not be so obsessed with it that the highs and lows of earnings and losses itself is a cause of ulcers. How much is enough depends on what you decide is enough. Money does not buy happiness for sure beyond a point, nor can you carry it up there along with all your goodies when your time is up so just chill.
- Accept people the way they are faults and all, and do not judge them from your high pedestal and standards. Ego is a dirty word and leads to more problems than it solves if not used positively to get you the life you deserve or if you look down on others from the tip of your nose.
- Stop blaming others for your ills. The buck starts and stops with you so just get moving ahead.
- Smile at strangers and more often than not you will get a smile back and they may not remain stranger’s. Do it to anyone you pass by while walking around and see their face light up more often than not.
- Minimise watching the TV news and breaking news where all you see is negative hype that brings out the worst that people can do and make you feel like breaking the TV itself! Sports or music or reality shows or movies bring the best of talent and dedication that can inspire and make one appreciate people for who they are. Again too much TV or turf wars over the remote kills conversation so it’s all about striking the balance. Reading the paper the next morning sitting in the sun captures the essence of the previous day and you get the sun too! Double whammy!
- Shun technology beyond a point if your life revolves around your smart phone or other gizmos or how many friends like the latest pic you posted, and it consumes you. Then it’s time to do a reality check and draw a line somewhere for your good.
- Try and not carry work back home – there is nothing which cannot wait till the next day (unless your boss insists) so do the other things you love when you get home. Avoid checking the mails from 9pm – 9am – nothing earth shaking will happen. Try and make your boss too understand he needs a life and he might end up thanking you too!
- Try and spread happiness and cheer and knowledge or experiences at the smallest opportunity – giving joy or your time to someone who needs it can be the greatest joy.
At the end life is all about making the choices that make one happy, keeping it uncomplicated, enjoying the little pleasures, laughing more, taking hurdles as an opportunity to learn and living each day as a gift of life to make the best of it for yourself and the lives you touch. As a Mentor and Coach that’s just what I aim to do every day and I have never been more at peace.
The list above is easier said than done and if it’s caused you stress just reading it – you certainly need help. If we manage even half of it to start with it could be the start towards entering a more stress free zone in your life as shown in the picture above.
And to answer the question posed earlier – Is stress free a real state of being, a distinct possibility? The answer – very much, but only you can make it happen by doing the little things that all add up. And just keep this in mind along the way “When you stumble, make it part of the dance.”
Enjoy the dance of life and make it fun too!
About the Author.
Mr. Cherian Kuruvila is a Life Coach on the Healtheminds panel. Know more about him.