Posted in Personal, Public Awareness, Student

Managing Stress – My Story

Have you ever woken up with a sense of worthlessness, like you are failing everyone around you? Although, every aspect of your life is shining, have you ever felt like it is all going in vain? When you are enjoying your work, your family is with you, and importantly, everyone is safe; have you still felt despair? I woke up with a similar feeling 2 days back.

Thankfully, I was fortunate to identify it. Identifying any form of stress is much more crucial than getting pass it. I can recognise these small stresses because of a lot of conversations about mental health with my friends, mentors, family and colleagues. On the other end of the spectrum, I have also met people (unfortunately, doctors too) that do not believe that stress is an ailment. There might be people who never had an abrasion but if anybody has never experienced distress, they might be in the Guinness Book of World Records. No! they can not even get a Guinness because stress is not quantifiable. No parameter can measure it. Right now, if I am telling you I was stressed 2 days back, I do not have a blood report to prove that. Everyone’s struggle and everyone’s stress is invariably different. For you, it might be a low test score, and for someone else, it might be losing their mobile phone, each to their own. We can not compare our stress levels, and at the same time, we should not undermine other’s consequences. To someone who is struggling to get a shelter for his family, my stress would sound meaningless. However, that can not be a counter-argument to make myself feel better.

Think of a time when you were staring at the wall and smiling when somebody just caught you in that moment. It is similar to getting up in the morning with some emptiness, like some part of you is missing. In both cases, there is no visible cause that is leading to that feeling, but the emotions that you are experiencing are real. It could be due to your subconscious brain that has things stored in it which you might not be able to identify, but you are carrying them everywhere. One thing we all can do is to identify signals which our body is giving. Our mind and the rest of the body is in sync; start being mindful about the changes you experience. What are your behavioural changes whenever you are stressed? How do you carry on with your routine? How do you react to people? And make a list of it initially. It will help you to identify your stress.

The next aspect is to face this stress and to take it down. Here, I will share my story of tackling this feeling 2 days back. I woke up in the morning with uneasiness; I did not want to move out of the bed because I thought that I am no good. It was weird to have such a feeling when you have woken up fresh in the morning, and there is no baggage that you are carrying with yourself. In a moment, I consciously asked myself, Why am I feeling this way?, but I had no answer. And, I could not let that kill my whole day.

  • I got up and meditated in the bed. Meditation is a great practice to clear up your mind. Earlier I was sceptic about meditation, but I finally started practising 3 years back. Although I am not consistent, and there is a lot more to learn, but I feel the difference every day. It just simplifies everything. During meditation, I was talking to myself, I was convincing myself – ‘everything is good’, ‘there’s nothing wrong’ etc. I consciously stopped myself and focused just on my breath.
  • I prepared breakfast for myself, which included tomato soup (Knorr, of course!) and two toasted slices of bread. Yes, soup for breakfast. I am aware that this is a weird breakfast, but all is fair when you are stressed. I thoroughly enjoyed everything in this meal; it just lifted my mood. Although eating as a coping mechanism for stress can be troublesome. So, make sure you are keeping note of that as well. Note down what are your ‘stress-relieving’ food picks and how much of it you consume. If a small bite of chocolate can help you feel better, then go for it without any guilt.
  • I wrote 5 things I am grateful for in my gratitude journal – I don’t clearly remember from where I picked this habit of daily gratitude practice. However, this is a magnificent way to express gratitude and count on your blessings. We often miss the small moments of happiness. Recently, I also discovered about Kubra Sait’s practise, where she adds notes about her happy moments to a jar. It is an incredible idea to cheer up or relive the moments by randomly picking up a note out of the box.
  • I cleaned and organized my room – this might sound a bit boring and more of a chore, but it works for me. Cleaning up diverts my brain, and as the spaces declutter, I feel accomplished. It is hard to explain; I felt as if I am a winner because if I could change the profile of my room, I had the power to change all aspects of life. lol! (I hope that makes sense).
  • I listened to a podcast – While I was cleaning my room, I was listening to The Ranveer Show podcast. It just happened to be the right podcast at that time; in this podcast, Ranveer was talking to a successful CEO. While they were discussing many sides of business and culture, midway through the podcast, they discussed the time when this woman attempted to take her own life. This part of the podcast just lifted me. Often we feel that everyone around us in a much better place in life and that could be one key reason for our despair. Especially considering the social media culture that has diluted our lives.

After that, I just washed my face, switched on Thomas Frank’s Spotify Playlist and started writing my to-do list for the day.

Maybe my likes do not match with yours; you do you. The important part is to have things ready for these times when you feel low. Have a joy list (credits – Rachel Hollis), where you have a list of things that gives you joy. Every time you feel stunted, try to pick up something from the list. Open up to friends and family about your emotions; we are all in this together. At the same time, you should understand that even our well-wishers might not be capable to place themselves in your shoes; it is entirely alright. Do not oblige them for your mental well being. If your mom does not empathise with your break-up, then call your sister. Predominantly, take help from experts. Go for therapy or consult a psychiatrist, do not be ashamed of it. Your steps to see a therapist might motivate the girl-next-door to step out of her cocoon as well. Talk about your experiences and persuade others.

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Writing is a form of expression for me. I hope that my small steps in life help you to climb mountains.

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