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Are these happy things stressing you out?

June 10, 2014 18:20 IST

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Shameem Akthar

If you thought holidays, weddings and parties de-stress you, think again!

You think these are fun things to do. While suffering a long daily commute, or an insufferable boss, or a boring day alone, you fantasise about these things, drooling over the release from stress, loneliness and boredom.

The reality can be quite different. What you thought of as moksha from boredom/stress is actually just another big headache, according to new research.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the International  Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, shows you the reality of these high-stress fun activities!

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Photographs: Punit Paranjpe / Reuters

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1. Holidays

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The holiday you are planning and waiting for will make up for all the stress of an entire year of slogging, right?  

In fact, recent research shows that planning for a holiday is often more exciting than actually going out there!

For depression or stress-relief, life coaches suggest that you plot your holiday, looking up sites, reading up on the places you would love to visit.

That is far more enjoyable than the actual trip. Travel sites and journals often give a very rose-tinted view of the places. Actual weather conditions, transport, conniving touts are not mentioned.

Add-on costs that are not mentioned, quality of hotel staff and inimical fellow guests if you are travelling in a group, an itinerary that doesn't suit you, and always having to be alert if you are travelling on your own, don't make for the ideal holiday.

What you can do to beat the holiday stress: If it is an expensive trip, you want it planned to suit your personality.

This could make or break the trip. Talk to people who have been on that route before to know the actual pitfalls at ground level. Don't go by what the brochures or agents say.

If it is a group holiday, be clear how you fit into the group and that all the needs of the group (which also means food preferences) are taken into consideration.

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Image: Vacations sometimes cause more stress than relaxation.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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2. Wedding

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The lead-up to the Big Day is a high-stress demanding “job” for the parties involved. The smiles on the faces of bride and groom are in place through sheer will power.

Rich or poor, a wedding can be physically the most exhausting event of one’s life.

Dresses to be tried on, friends to be engaged and entertained, the drama of beauty treatments, food and entertainment to be arranged...it's an endless stream of exhausting tasks.

And however many lists of must-do things you make, there's always the worry that you've missed out something. 

Though you expect to be pampered and catered to, you will find that you are the one who seems to be actually sweating it out!

What you can do: Find a close friend, sibling or family member who can bear the burden of the tasks.

As D-day approaches, fix some my-time (ideally at the start of the day) when you are alone before the rush of chores descends on you.

You may feel you cannot afford the luxury of this time to yourself, but it will help you prioritise things and mentally organise everything better.

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Image: A wedding can be physically the most exhausting event of one's life.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/ Reuters
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3. New baby in the house

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This is the biggest surprise for newbie parents.

What they thought would be a bundle of gurgling joy turns out to be a wailing food machine which wants attention all the time!

This can stress out both parents. Men tend to run off and spend more time at the office to get off the guilt trip of feeling overburdened by the new arrival.

This adds to the frustration of the new mother, creating chaos and bad vibes.

This will also be the time when the maid servant will ditch you, and visitors will pile up, and serious sleep deprivation will kick in (as the baby needs feeds and diaper changes every few hours).

The large joint families of old took off some of this stress - which explains the baby boom back then - but today's nuclear family has to cope with the emotionally draining and physically exhausting task of bringing up baby.

What you can do: Get help! Organise assistance either as hired hands or a willing family member.

Organise a rhythm of feeding for the baby so the system takes some load off – you will find that when this falls in place, the baby will not need too many frequent night feeds.

The Indian system of daily massage for the mother and baby in the first few months is a great way to get some much-needed rest.

You will find baby too is lulled into a deep sleep during which time you can get some shut-eye yourself!

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Image: Having a baby can be stressful.
Photographs: Uday Kuckian
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4. Late night parties

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Late night parties are fun things if you are able to sleep in late.

For those with a full work day ahead, it can be high stress.

Some of the problems for the body: serious sleep deprivation; feet/leg pain from ill-fitting but formal foot wear; dramatic and sickly hangovers which means crushing headaches; nausea and/or body ache from excessive dancing; lethargy the following day that makes you feel you just can't get out of bed!

Those who lead well organised and balanced lives will be able to handle it better. It is those who feel fun-deprived in the rest of their lives who will end up bingeing and overdoing things despite the red alerts their body throws up.

What you can do: Control the amount you drink. Wear comfortable foot wear if you are going to be dancing through the night.

Choose a wind-down time if you wish to salvage the next day.

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Image: Too many late nights can harm health
Photographs: Jorge Silva/Reuters
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5. Work outs

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How can this seemingly healthy activity be bad for you?

Well, people who work-out manically can actually be harming themselves.

After any high-intense activity the muscles need a 48-hour rest period.

Choosing only one type of work-out to the exclusion of others – for example, treadmill, skipping rope, jogging, brisk walking, spinning – can all be high stress for the body.

Any activity involves a lactic acid build up. Since this is linked to your stress glands, it means that the work-out high is followed by a stress build-up too.

Unless you involve activity that helps release this build up, you will feel stressed without even being aware of it.

What you can do: Stretches, meditation and games are de-stressing. Make them a  part of your work-out to ensure that what you think is fun does not injure or damage you in the long run.


Image: Choosing only one type of work-out to the exclusion of others can be high stress for the body.
Photographs: Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com
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