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5 simple habits to lead a stress-free life

January 05, 2021 10:34 IST

Manoj Jain tells you how to fight stress and find peace in your daily lives.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

The corona crisis has swept through the globe, resulting in worldwide chaos.

For the majority of the masses, we've gone from a carefree schedule of commuting on public transit, professional networking, partying with friends and celebrations with family, to a completely different life punctuated with social isolation, physical distancing, health concerns, job losses, an economic downturn, political upheavals and whatnot.

It is easy to imagine what powerful triggers of stress such circumstances can be.

Medical science explains stress to be our natural physical and mental reaction to life's experiences.

Our body reacts to stress by flooding our systems with hormones, resulting in rapid breathing, sweating, elevated pulse rate, and a myriad of other immediate symptoms.

Prolonged exposure to stress, much like the situation we are facing today, can push us towards headaches, heartburn, depression, insomnia, heart trouble, fertility problems, a weakened immune symptom and a whole host of other well-documented adverse effects.

Fear not, however!

Changing our lives and steering it towards prolonged peace and health can be as simple as adopting five daily habits to conquer stress:

1. Dedicate some 'Me' time

Whether it's the first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or even a few stolen moments between errands, it is important to remove a little time solely for ourselves.

Put aside your daily chores and find a quiet place to escape demanding family members.

Use this time to indulge in any activity that gives you joy and peace.

It can be anything from reading the newspaper while savouring a flavourful cup of coffee; flipping though the pages of an exciting book; learning a few phrases of a new language; taking an online class; baking a scrumptious dessert; tending to plants in the little green corners of our homes; or even soaking in a warm bath with scented candles and salts.

2. Put a smile on someone's face

There is nothing that can bring us more joy than the knowledge that we made another person happy.

Make it a personal goal to do at least one good deed per day, no matter how small or trivial. Give a helping hand to family in household tasks.

Call your friend and check in with what's happening in their lives. Compliment your colleague on a job well done.

Lend your shoulder for someone who needs support. Send your spouse flowers.

Donate some clothes or supplies to those in need. A small act of charity on our end can truly brighten up someone else's life.

3. Keep your body moving

Physical activity in any form is a tried and tested stress buster.

Most health professionals recommend getting in at least 20 minutes of exercise three to four times a week.

Walk to the stores while grocery shopping instead of driving short distances.

Take the stairs.

Run around the local park or even on the road during light traffic hours.

Breathe in as much fresh air as you can.

Sign up for online yoga, aerobics, Pilates, CrossFit classes.

In short, keep your body moving.

Regular movement triggers the release of powerful endorphins in our bodies, heightening happiness and reducing stress.

4. Tune in to melody

Music has always been a well-known mood changer.

More and more employers are nowadays encouraging music even in the workplace. So hit play on your favourite playlist and hum along when performing mundane tasks.

Keep your radio on while driving or cooking.

Sing in the shower, however off-key you may be!

Research proves that music reduces anxiety, blood pressure and pain; and improves focus, sleep quality and memory.

5. Sleep, breathe, meditate

There is nothing to beat stress quite like regulating your relaxation.

Get adequate sleep every night and keep your bedtimes fixed.

After you wake up, breathe deeply, practise pranayama, and meditate for a short while before hitting breakfast and tackling your daily to-do lists.

Starting your morning right sets the tone for a peaceful day to follow.

An alumnus of IIM-Ahmedabad, Manoj Jain has a master's degree in psychology. He runs a garment export business and is the author of the book Meeting Yama.

MANOJ JAIN