If like me, you happen to live in a mid-size city such as Kuala Lumpur, the hustle and bustle of your daily life will grind you down eventually. You are spinning many plates in the air at the same time, while trying to balance the constant demands of your job, your family & friends, and if you are lucky, even your personal life. So, here are my top 7 tips to help you manage your stress more effectively, and hopefully, you will not have to suffer the burden of a mental meltdown:-
- PRACTICE PATIENCE at all times. Whether you like it or not, there will always be people around who will test your patience to the nth degree and back. Please do not allow people’s irritating habits & actions crawl under your skin, and do not blow your top as this will only increase your stress hormones and make your situation even more severe. So the next time, someone randomly say or do something totally absurd & stupid, just take a very deep breath in, and exhale slowly as you count from 1 to 10. Tell yourself, you are a bigger person than them, and you will not lose your temper as it will be a unnecessary waste of your precious time & energy. After all, conflict should be avoided whenever possible, if we are all to live together in a civil society. Take a look at the Japanese society as a good example of how civic-minded people can live together in harmony despite the fact that there are over 35 million over people living in Greater Tokyo area. Yes, patience is indeed a virtue which you can cash in for extra serenity and peace of mind.
- THINK & BE POSITIVE. I find this really helps me to stay calm and relaxed in the toughest stress-inducing situations. No matter how bad a situation appears, there is always a positive you can take from it. Only by making mistakes & facing challenges head-on, we can grow positively as a human being. So the next time, you forget to save a couple hours of work on you computer and it is accidentally deleted, please do not throw your desktop out of the window. Instead, take another deep breath, and look at it as an opportunity to improve yourself. Perhaps, you would want to ask yourself this, “how could I have improved on the deleted items, and how can I take extra precaution so that in the future, I do not repeat the same mistake?”. Are you with me, so far?
- SMILE LIKE A CHESHIRE CAT. Whenever I smile, it becomes difficult for me to be agitated or angry easily, and as a result, I can avoid any stress-escalating incidents completely. I think, it must be the happy chemicals surging through my body that is triggered off by the simple act of smiling. It’s no wonder that in Tibetan Government places more importance on keeping-up their National Happiness Index compared to their National Economic Index.
- READ A BOOK. Sometimes, the easiest way to beat stress is to simply pick-up a good read. Why not search for a book title which can relax your mind and help you escape the chaotic daily routine with a subject which will both fascinate and occupy your mind. Reading can really refresh your mind and perhaps even, give you a better perspective on your situation. Or you may prefer watching a good flick (movie) to take your tired minds away from the hardships of reality.
- FIND A QUIET SPOT. They say a break is as good as a holiday: I dearly look forward to my vacation trips, my schedule permitting, as it gives me an opportunity to totally switch-off my mind from my usual working duties and to getaway from the awful air & noise pollution of my crowded city, and to fully recharge my batteries. Needless to say, my choice of destinations must be a place which is relatively remote, tranquil and close to nature’s inviting beauty spots such as a spectacular sandy beach, a cooling waterfall, lush highlands, or the great lakes. A place where I can submerge myself fully in the local customs & scenery, while leaving behind any memories of the city life. However, if your budget or time constraint does not allow you the luxury of traveling to a different destination, then do not fret because you can still find many quiet enclaves hidden and scattered in the Klang Valley which are conducive to the acts of relaxation, meditation & contemplation for de-stressing purposes. This small hideaways could be in a park, near a pond or on a building rooftop.
- EXERCISE & MORE EXERCISE. By engaging in a physical sporting activity such as running, cycling, swimming, kick boxing, or tennis on a weekly basis, you will successfully keep stress at bay because the resulting release of endorphins into your body system, as a result of exercise, will leave you feeling euphoric, and wanting more.
- RESTFUL SLEEP. The most common, yet fairly unknown, cause of stress is the lack of adequate sleeping time. An average person needs a minimum of 6 hours of restful sleep to function properly throughout the day. Any less than that, and our body will start releasing the dreaded stress hormones. There are many possible reasons why a person is lacking in sleep such as being overworked, sleeping too late, or suffering from insomnia. My suggestion is to wake-up early, keep yourself as active as possible during the day and make yourself as tired as possible so that you can enjoy a deep sleep. I know some people who need to listen to a relaxing or meditating CD before they can close their eyes to reach slumber state. Others may need to have a warm bath to ease their tense body before going to bed. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem and it requires serious attention.
- DRASTIC CHANGE. If you have tried all of the above suggestions, and you still cannot manage your stress levels successfully, then I strongly recommend you re-assess your life and pinpoint first the source of your stress. If it is work-related stress, then you should look at your behaviour at work, and your working environment, and decide what needs to be changed to reduce your stress. If you cannot make the necessary changes at work, then you may even want to consider finding a new job which is less stressful before the stress causes some long-lasting damage to you. Similarly, if the stress is related to your relationship with someone (such as your boss, colleagues, friends or partners), then you have to reassess your relationship and find a mutually beneficial solution, or end that relationship, if it means bringing-down your stress to manageable levels.
Before I finish my article, let me warn you that indulging in illegal drugs; in binge-eating; and in retail therapy; are never viable means to manage stress. In fact, they are only fleeting feel-good responses, and engaging in them are not only totally ineffective in the long run but it will also give you more stress later because they can lead you to added financial or health difficulties.