While the importance of physical exercise and our diet is being written about more than ever before, the importance of other urgent aspects of our health at times ignored. Our mental wellbeing is just as important as our physical wellness.
In our already busy lives, it is advised to better understand the impact on our health that chronic stress can have. It is widely believed that the impact of stress — especially continuous stress on the human body can greatly increases the risk of developing a variety of diseases such as asthma, arthritis, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, migraine headaches, strokes and ulcers.
Stress begins in the mind. Our inability to cope with these perceived or real threats can trigger a series of physical responses from our mind to our body.
If we are constantly worrying, constantly under pressure and are unable to channel the stress in effective ways, our bodies will spend too much time dealing with stress rather than our normal bodily functions. This often leads to physical illness.
Whether you are a lawyer about to fight a case, or a mother trying to feed one child and iron clothes for another child, maintaining a clear mind and channeling your stress in a healthy manner is the way to make sure you meet all the demands of your job. The next few paragraphs will provide some tips and insights on how to keep your stress in check and your head clear.
1. Develop Healthy Relationships
We all have important people in our lives: our parents, our children, the person we are married to and friends. Every relationship, no matter how good or bad, offers a unique opportunity to examine ourselves and, if needed, adjust our behavior.
It the best case, a healthy relationship is one where there is trust, honesty and sharing. The environment should be non-judgmental. Working on these important relationships can help provide us with opportunities to shareour stress and problems with those close to us but can also help eliminate ideas that threaten our mind and body by having a healthy dialogue with friends and family.
Sleep is an essential part of life. It is when our brain heals and our body rests. The amount of activity going on in our body and brain while we sleep is critical to our existence. Our brains are busy at work storing information from the previous day, solving problems, detoxifying and repairing cells while we sleep. Do not worry about how much you sleep – just try your best.
During the different stages of sleep, our stress hormones go through up and down. These changes are very important in controlling our stress hormones — if we don’t sleep well we are likely to be more irritable and as a result have even more difficulty falling asleep.
Some good ways to fight stress before to going to bed is with prayer, meditation and breathing exercises. Vigorous deep breathing, such as the breathing that occurs during exercise or conscious breathing during mediation, enhances flow of lymph fluid through a type of breathing called belly-breathing.
This may be the most important aspect of creating a healthy mind. Our perceptions aren’t always reality. We are often distracted by our perceptions. How often do you react emotionally? All this does is turn bad situations into really bad situations. When we take the time to evaluate how bad things really are (often not that bad at all), we can find a way to flip the obstacle in front of us and use it to our advantage. We have a choice. It won’t be easy, but we can make a choice…
Think about it. How truly bad is your present situation? Do you have eyes that see? Legs that walk? How about a home? A source of food? Is the traffic jam you are in really that bad? (Maybe use that time in traffic as a time to practice your meditation). IS the deadline at work really impossible to meet?
A clear head gives you better focus. This isn’t to say you aren’t allowed to get angry or upset. Go ahead and kick over the trash can in your office cubicle. But where is that anger going to get you?
We live in an extremely fast-paced society, full of traffic and full of pollution. The stress increases and we tend to lose sight of what is truly important — the present situation.
If you have a chance, look up all of the companies that were started during a depression or economic crisis. The list may surprise you. In fact, half of the companies in the Fortune 500 were started during a recession, including Microsoft and Proctor & Gamble. How did this happen?
It’s because the leaders and founders of these companies were focused on the task at hand, rather than the “big picture.” They had a job to do and a great idea they believed in. They didn’t waste time thinking about what was fair or unfair or worry about what everybody else was doing. They lived in the present, and got the job done. Many coaches use the phrase “ignore the noise” when speaking to their team. That is exactly what the leaders of these companies are doing.
Living in the present isn’t easy. For example, it isn’t easy dealing with a traffic jam in Dhaka city, a frustrating work assignment or a house full of screaming children. These are things we have to work at, one moment at a time. Remember, whether positive or negative, where the mind goes the body will follow…
4. Strive to be better
Everything we do is a chance to learn, a chance to be better. Those who Focus on themselves only may think they are too good for whatever their situation needs. We may not always like our current situation but sometimes we just have to do things we would rather not do. This is part of the process/cycle of life. We may fail at times: that is fine and you will be better for making the mistake ten thousand times.
No one in the history of the universe woke up great. Don’t worry about what might happen in two weeks, two months, two years or 10 years. Focus on to the task at hand. After all, that is all you can control. That is “the process” — trust it.
Maneeza Hosain is a director at the Daily Ittefaq and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute of Washington DC.