I first developed the program, ‘De-stress & Revitalize Your Soul’ for working women in my company, some eight years ago. I was asked the question then and am still asked the same question years later; ‘Why only women?’ Well simply because I am a woman myself and moreover; while I certainly do believe that men have their due share of stressors, women on the other hand find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities in hand, much more then men do and are hence much more vulnerable to stress. It’s not only about multi- tasking; in any given day women are required to run a multi-track mind as well, switching rapidly between tasks that are varied and quite different from each other. My husband’s typical day involves, waking up, changing, showering, breakfasting, going to work, working at office the whole day, returning, playing with our son, having dinner, watching television, listening to music and then sleeping. My day involves getting dressed, packing a lunch for my kid, helping my kid get dressed up, dropping him off to school, tracking his progress, finding missing rain coats, hitting the gym (if time allows), coordinating with home contractors to fix or attend to things, returning for breakfast, writing my blog, coaching a client or attending a training/ workshop, networking, leaving in time to pick my child, feeding him lunch, taking him for his extra curricular activities, grocery shopping on the way back, staying in touch with family and friends , doing school homework, doing laundry, dish loading, preparing a meal (the latter three tasks are often performed simultaneously),preparing our son for bedtime, getting his bag and uniform in order, clean and pressed, preparing for my coaching or training session, spending time with hubs, reading a book and finally hitting the bed.Now am certainly not suggesting that my husband works less hard, in fact he works so hard that sometimes we hardly see him ; apart from extensive travelling and working late hours, he is engaged in dry and often boring number crunching assignments which are much more exhaustive than any task on my daily itinerary! And to be fair, he most certainly helps around and occasionally swaps duties as well. However, given the wide range of duties I perform regularly, and so does any other lady of the house, mindfully switching from one task to another, the constant time pressure we feel, coupled with the desire to do things perfectly (please note: the latter desire doesn’t concern men at all) are all perfect ingredients to cook a big, fat, juicy stress pie! If unlike me, you are a full-time working mom as opposed to a part time one, you already have twice the work load and stress level. And last but definitely not the least, if you are not working and are a stay at home with one or more than one kid, then my heart goes out to you, all the more. It’s one motherly duty after another.You hardly ever get a break.
If you take out the mommy duties from this equation, life maybe simpler but not any less demanding. Whether you are a mom or not, as a working lady you are still burdened with expectations of what you’ ought to’ and ‘ought not to’ do. Managing work and home is still a responsibility, traditionally passed on to you and there is usually an unsaid, silent expectation for you to flex your schedule and realign commitments more than your partner needs to or is required to do.
Bottom line, we are hard working, efficient, organized, multitaskers with an invisible cape, but sometimes while playing the role of this super heroic daughter, wife or mom we often fall victim to self-pity, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Don’t worry if you do. It is but natural. In fact sometimes stress can be positive and beneficial too. Ever heard of the term eustress? Eustress means beneficial stress—either psychological, physical (e.g. exercise), or biochemical/radiological (hormesis). The term was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, consisting of the Greek prefix eu- meaning “good”, and stress, literally meaning “good stress”.
But if negative stress/ distress is a trap you find yourself falling into more often than the positive one, then here is a To do list for you; nothing fancy, plain, old simple tips which you have probably heard before but believe me, when you start following these tried and tested methods regularly, negative stress will be a thing from the past! Here they go
- Train your brain to think ‘I CAN’: Always remember that the brain will do as it’s told. If you keep telling yourself that you can achieve something, you will be amazed to see how well your brain cooperates with you and obliges you to reach that goal and vice versa
- Be positive about yourself: Enhance your your self worth by affirming your positive characteristics and repeating positive statements about yourself. Negative feelings sap your energy and set up a self perpetuating cycle of disappointment worry and regret.
- Set yourself attainable life goals: Break a long term goal into small attainable sub goals. Write out a plan or a series of steps that will keep you moving forward. Reward yourself after each step on the way to keep you motivated and on track. Breaking down you journey into smaller mile stones and celebrating them will give you a sense of purpose too and who doesn’t like celebrating, every now and then 😉
- Laugh heartily, very often: Laughter is the best therapy out there and what’s more; its free! It gives heart and lungs a good workout and research indicates that laughter releases feel good brain chemicals which in turn lower the blood pressure, relax the muscles, reduce pain and reduce stress hormones.
- Start a gratitude journal. Remember the deprived ones and thank God for even the less obvious blessings. Waking up each day and acknowledging even one blessing a day goes a long way in recuperating the most dampened spirits. Pain easily overshadows joy and you are quick to point out what is going wrong in your life or in any given day. What went good, however takes time and contemplation because most likely, a good thing which has happened to you or is happening to you, is often constituted of unnoticeable things which we commonly take for granted.Free yourself from fear, superstition, negativity, bad omen, uncertainty and focus on the good things.
- Spend time with loved ones. Spending time with loved ones and bonding with them over coffee/ lunch or even a skype chat gives you emotional support and distracts the mind from the daily grind. Take time to enjoy with children, play with them, act silly; their enthusiasm and vitality will rub off on you. Plan nights out or lunch dates with your partner or friend. Hire a baby sitter and go out and have fun with your spouse or if you are like us; stay in, cook a lavish meal or better still order in, snuggle and watch a movie. You will never feel better.
- Nurture a hobby: Invest time in doing something you enjoy such as gardening, painting, cooking, writing and so on… When you spend some time of the day or even week, doing something you are passionate about, your soul is invigorated and you feel a natural sense of peace, inner satisfaction and contentment which no other therapy can substitute.
- Meditate and practice Mindfulness: Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to just sit by yourself and let your mind float. Meditation declutters the mind and helps you unwound & moreover boosts mood and immunity. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or dwelling on regrets. Practicing guided Meditative visualization or listening to meditative music relaxes the mind and body considerably. Indulge yourself in a luxurious warm bath, light up some scented candles, close your eyes and allow your mind and body to drift and see the difference.
- Treat yourself once in a while: Retail therapy is over rated. I would opt for the spa therapy any day. If you want to spend money, go to the salon and feel good about it.Manage your finances and treat yourself with a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure. Or if spa doesn’t fancy you much, treat yourself to something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be even cycling / walking /swimming/ canoeing in an exotic/ peaceful setting. Restaurants, Movie theatres, Spas & entertainment places frequently come out with amazing deals. Look out for them and book yourself in. Travelling & going to new places is another great option which promotes self awareness and personal development and over all makes you a happier person.
- Exercise: I have not been much of a regular gym girl myself but there is not denying any form of exercise, be it dancing, yoga or even walking, certainly makes you healthier and fit. It doesn’t have to be hour or forty five minutes every day. Even twenty minutes of being active and following a fun exercise regimen is enough to kick start your metabolism in the right direction. And most of all
- Just feel good! Anytime….Anywhere, ALWAYS: Do not let the weather or for that matter anything else dictate your moods. Always cherish the good that has already happened, relish the good that is happening and look forward to the good which is yet to come.
It’s okay to fret and panic my friend. It’s okay to vent out too. It’s also okay to get your cape tangled in the trap but when it does, take a moment and step back. Then breath in deeply, untangle yourself, lift your chin and continue marching forward with your cape flying nice and high. PS: don’t forget to breathe out 😉