Anxiety and stress are actually two sides of the same coin.If stress is a generalized state of feeling overburdened with work; anxiety indicates fear & apprehension regarding a life situation.The two have invaded our lives to such a degree that we have come to regard them as necessary evils.They impair our judgement,cause physical ailments & destroy our peace of mind.Our efficiency takes a beating,inflicting irreparable damage to our image & reputation.
We live in stressful times.Pick up a newspaper & majority of news will be about violence,theft,fraud,rape,murder,disaster & other natural or man-made calamities.Very subtly all these influence our thinking.If we read about an accident we shall be doubly tense while driving a car.A news about child abuse will set us worrying what sort of people come in contact with our own child.Such worries coalesce into a cloud of anxiety to weigh down upon our minds.We see danger everywhere.Fear seeps in.We live in a state of perpetual angst.So much so that ordinary activities like crossing the road,using an electrical appliance,or going on a journey make us tense & apprehensive.
Then a real trigger comes along & we are flustered to hell.The quantum of worry is totally disproportionate to the situation at hand.Because we were already tense,we distort the whole picture.An ordinary problem looms like a major catastrophe.This happens because our stress response system is overactive.To make matters worse, we lose confidence in our ability to solve the problem.We feel that something terrible is going to happen & we shall not be able to cope.In extreme cases total helplessness & hopelessness take over ;rendering us incapable of taking action.Very imperceptibly,without our knowing,floating anxiety has transformed into a major handicap.
Pinpoint the cause & avoid it if it is insignificant
In order to get rid of anxiety let us first trace it to it's source.Is it the media that is giving us the jitters?Skip over the crime section.If it is a co-worker then it is best to maintain a distance from him.Waiting in queues or commuting long distances can also be stressful.Listen to music ,read a book,or observe the surroundings to avoid such boredom;according to the situation.A queue is a fine place to study human behavior & also to be aware of our own reactions to the experience.Listening to the news or music while driving saves time & soothes the mind.Above all,irritation turns into enjoyment.
However issues which affect our life & happiness should be tackled without delay.
*If it is the finances that are eating our insides,then we might as well sit down & do something about it;rather than postponing the taking of a decision & waiting for Father Time to solve the problem.
*If discord with the better(or worse?)half is eroding our peace of mind ,it is best to have a heart-to-heart talk with him/her.Complex issues can be taken to a wise mediator in whom you both have faith;or to a counselor.
*Sometimes the behavior of our offspring too generates a lot of tension.A refreshing course of child psychology will enable us to peep into the psyche of our child,i.e why it is behaving thus & what should be done about it.Is it just a passing phase ,or has the child landed into a difficult situation & is itself perturbed considerably?This link gives good advice about behavior problems in children.
The hidden enemy
Tracing stress to it's root cause is just a beginning.A lot more needs to be done to erase it altogether.Not all stressors can be avoided or skirted by.It is vital to analyse our own role in this whole scenario.Our attitudes & our whole personality are major deciding factors whether we will be relaxed or tense.
*Are we hyper in our reactions & thus make mountains out of mole hills?
*Are we oversensitive?Do we take offence at minor arguments or comments?
*Is it because of a disease that we are behaving thus?
*Do we have this tendency to complain about everything?
*Is our behavior such that it attracts opposition & confrontation?Maybe we are perfectionists & overcritical,which is why we view our friends' or colleagues' behavior as lacking cordiality & get all worked up about it ?
*Does our imagination work overtime to present sorrowful scenarios?
An honest introspection along these lines will help us to get rid of our own mental debris so that we imbibe less stress in future.
Once we have aligned our attitudes to a more constructive & positive channel;it is time to look at our coping strategies.
I have a friend who will ignore the sprouting of a problem because she instinctively avoids the unpleasant.But certain issues need to be looked in the eye.When she does not do this, they grow in size & complexity;& then she is zapped,not knowing how to deal with them.Many of us ignore a problem while it is a small dot on the horizon,till it grows & grows into a thunder storm.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who willfully get entangled in what does not concern them.Are we so short of stress that we should import it from others?
It is essential to be able to say 'NO' if we want to remain cool & composed.It is better not to take up more than we can handle because it will unnecessarily add to our stress.The quality of our work will suffer & the resultant criticism will anger us.
A lot of stress can be averted if only we learn to assert ourselves when the situation demands.Ved was unjustifiably bypassed for a promotion.He could not voice his resentment & became sullen & withdrawn.The anger & frustration was all bottled inside.As a result he spoiled his relations at the work place & became a patient of hypertension.If only he had discussed the matter with his boss,his anger could have been assuaged & the disease averted.
Similarly,keeping quiet when someone passes a derogatory comment & not expressing our feelings when someone hurts us only adds to the angst.When we keep quiet in face of insult or injustice,we invite more of it in future & thus the rancor multiplies.It is best to nip it in bud.
On the other hand if there is a stalemate with a friend or a coworker,then a compromise is not a bad idea.We cannot impose our own will & our own decisions upon others all the time.We do not usually think so,but it IS possible that the other person may be right.If we are dogmatic about our beliefs & methods,then we not only create discord but also invite failure.
What does one do when one is faced with a solid problem?
First of all, set aside your emotional self & look at it rationally.
Make sure you are not exaggerating it.
Do not ruminate about it again & again.
Take it by the horns-is it really that serious?Can it harm you?How much?What is the worst that can happen?What are the steps you can take to solve this problem?Do you need any expert advice?Who can help you to get over this crisis?Can you do it alone?
Now chalk out your course of action & get cracking.Action is better than distress & dilemma.But please do it methodically & tactfully as far as possible.You don't want to alienate friends or coworkers.One does get all worked up when confronted with a serious upheaval,but belligerence is not the answer.It could make matters worse.We often attribute the cause of a misfortune to a third party.This may or may not be true,but ignoring our own contribution only delays a course-correction.
When your hands are full with urgent work to be done,deadlines to be met & difficulties to be overcome;it is time to lessen the burden.
*Reverting our cell to an answering machine can save us from a lot of irritation & time.Avoiding round the clock connectivity is also very soothing for tired nerves.
*Make use of time saving gadgets whether in office or home.
*Other than this,prune your "to do " list.Cut down or postpone those jobs which are not essential right now.Delegate some others to those who will help you.Conserve your time & energy for what requires your immediate attention.When your mind is free from non-essentials,you will feel relaxed & more confident of resolving the crisis to your full satisfaction.If there is any chore you dislike intensely,like washing your car,looking after your garden,or toting up your income for IT deduction,engage outside help for it.This will give you extra hours of peaceful relaxation.
If even after your best efforts you come to a dead end in your search for a solution to your problem, do not hesitate to seek outside help.It is for you to decide whether it should be a friend,a relative or an expert.
I certainly don't imply that doing all this shall grant you immunity from stress.Difficulties will come & crises will erupt;but you will be better prepared to tackle them without losing your cool.If you come up against googlies which cannot be played, get aside & carry on with the game to the best of your ability.
It would be interesting to know what are your favorite stress-busters.Please share your valuable tips with us all.
I have purposely left out the many ways we can beat stress when it does overpower us.For this you can look up http://jeeteraho.blogspot.in/2010/10/beat-blues.html .