What is Stress?
Most explanations of stress simply rephrase the symptoms of stress without ever getting to the root of the problem. The result is we just keep going in circles, ending up exactly where we started. How can we solve a problem if we have not even defined it accurately?
Let’s once and for all clear out the confusion and define what stress is.
First and foremost, stress is not a physical phenomenon; it is 100% mental in nature. What this means is that stress is mostly in your control! Although you experience the symptoms of stress in your body, the root cause of stress is always in the mind.
At its most basic level, stress is a phenomenon of your mind racing faster than normal due to fear, while your body is struggling to catch up. This fear can be real, imagined, or perceived. Just pause for a moment and reflect on this; can you be in stress when you are not in fear? Stress is always accompanied by some form of fear, isn’t it?
Some of the symptoms of stress manifest in the body…. Check out these signs, symptoms, and effects to see if what you are experiencing is truly stress.
You need not have all the symptoms. A combination of two or three of these symptoms experienced regularly is an indication of stress that needs attention.
Fly off the handle easily
Tired all the time
General aches and pains
Talk a lot
Can’t sit still
Nerves on the edge
Lack of appetite or can’t stop eating
Mild chest pain
Decreased sexual desire
Nothing seems to be going right
How to handle stress?
Now, let’s look at 10 quick and easy ways to effectively deal with the symptoms of stress:
1) If you’re getting into a stressful situation, back out of it if you can. It’s better to wait until later or just avoid it all together unless it’s something you have to deal with. If that’s the case, keep on reading…..
2) Stop and take 10 slow and deep breaths by keeping your entire focus on the breath. There’s also a great relaxation technique you can do anywhere, anytime: Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Curl your toes up as tight as you can and hold them for a few seconds. Move up to your feet, tighten those muscles, and then relax. Keep moving up your body to your calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, back, all the way to your scalp–scrunch your scalp–it feels amazing. This should definitely make you feel much better.
3) Pay close attention to the language of the conversation in your mind during a stressful situation. Most of the time your mind isn’t on your side. Make a conscious effort to slow down your rate of speech and think about each word. Regretful things are often spoken during stressful moments.
4) Identify persistent and recurring problems (and people) that are inducing stress, and try to solve or avoid them as appropriate. If there’s something that bugs you every single day, let’s say, an annoying squeaky door, oil the darn thing! You don’t need such trivial things adding to your stress. If you don’t like country music, then change the station! You get the drift?
5) Take regular breaks during work and for goodness sakes, don’t discuss work problems with colleagues during a break! Take a walk, sit outside, listen to a favorite song–do something different; that’s why it’s called a “break”.
6) Don’t give more than necessary importance to your financial position. Live within your means and do the best you can with what you’ve got. A lot of stress might be due to “keeping up with the neighbors”. It’s important to know that it is possible to be perfectly happy without being super wealthy.
7) Learn to let go of things that are beyond your control. Watching the news report of an incident over and over isn’t going to make it go away or change anything that has already happened. All it will do is mess with your mind and cause stress. Don’t feel guilty about not watching the news if it’s causing you stress.
8) Practice love, compassion and forgiveness. Don’t harbor feelings of anger, resentment or jealousy. Always try to look at situations from the other person’s point of view. A really good rule that has been swept under the carpet in the modern age is “don’t let the sun set on your anger”. Getting up in the morning and picking up the same crap you went to bed with isn’t going to help you de-stress at all.
9) Your mood affects your stress levels significantly. If your house is a mess, it is much easier to fly off the handle at a situation than if everything is orderly and clean. Seriously! Keep your environment tidy and clean. It will do wonders for your mood.
10) Learn to be mindful of your actions throughout the day. Be aware of changing situations, emotions and thought processes. This will help you to identify stressful situations as they arise. When in a stressful situation, either vacate the premises immediately or practice one of the above quick and effective methods.
There are several herbs that are great for stress and anxiety relief. Prepare a cup of tea using chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, or passionflower (or a mixture of them). There are also several ready-made herbal mixtures in the market. How you prepare and consume the tea is just as important as the herbs you use. Heat the water and prepare the herbs with awareness; that means pay attention to what you are doing! You have no idea how important keeping your mind in the present moment is–it’s everything! Drink the tea from a pretty cup (not styrofoam) and sit in a comfortable space while you’re enjoying the tea.
If tea isn’t your thing, there are several herbs available in tincture form that work wonders to dispel anxiety and uneasiness; Ashwagandha, Valerian root, kava kava, and motherwort. These are usually taken in water, but check out reliable herbal resources for more information.
An herbal bath is also a marvelous way to ease anxiety. Toss a handful of lavender, lemon balm, or chamomile flowers into a warm bath and sink into the fragrance of peace. You could also tune in to our “Music” page for some amazing relaxation music.
Short term relief/long term cure
Dealing with immediate symptoms of stress will only provide short-term relief. To be able to reduce your stress levels on a longer run, you need to take a more organized and systematic long-term approach.
To help you go beyond stress on a longer run, we have designed a comprehensive online program with all the necessary resources, tools and guidance.
Explore our “Inner-Revolution” online program to know how it can help you deal with stress and overcome other daily challenges of life.
Note: This page offers suggestions for handling stress. We do not guarantee specific results and the results can vary.