Coping strategies

Understanding stress-causing attitudes is crucial to determining the coping mechanisms to use. Perfectionism, idealism and control could be major causes of stress not only for an individual but also for people around him. It is imperative to replace a stress-building attitude with a stress-busting one. This can be done by asking yourself: Under stress, are your thoughts alarming or reassuring? You can reduce stress by talking to yourself in a reassuring way, which is an excellent stress-buster for starters.

If you constantly seek to control the situation and achieve a 'perfect ten', do not. Delegate tasks to subordinates. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Excellence is a positive aspiration. Except in a high-precision industry, perfectionism can be a very negative attribute that induces stress in oneself and others.

A positive attitude can dramatically reduce stress and transform an individual's life. Ask Anandi Iyer. "A perfectionist who could not tolerate any imperfection, I was always crabby and snapping at everyone. I had a short tolerance level. All this made my job stressful and affected me physically. I had constant headaches."

"A year ago I came across C.B. Satpathy who showed me the path to Shirdi Sai Baba," says the lady, smiling and indicating, with an expansive wave of her arm, Sai Baba's pictures all over her cabin. "After the spiritual connection began, realization dawned and my life changed. Now I'm more relaxed. I realize that stress occurs when you are incapable of handling a given situation. Of course, I'm still a workaholic and find it difficult to take leave. But I've developed a positive outlook. Earlier, I could blast the staff if my printer didn't work. I do not anymore. Life offers choices. Nothing is the ultimate. Earlier, I wanted everything to be perfect. Today, I'm more tolerant and less stressed."

To lead a more or less stress-free existence, Dr. Sanjay Chugh has a practical recipe: "Redefine priorities, reassess abilities and potential, have realistic and flexible expectations, regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet."

According to Joe Rodrigues, the Director of Breakthrough Communication Services in Mumbai: "The pillars of stress management are meditation, physical exercise and proper eating habits. I hold a three-day workshop on stress management which takes a body-mind-spirit approach to handling stress."

In daily life, people use two kinds of coping strategies-positive or negative. Positive coping includes time management, proper nutrition, healthy relationships and social support, regular exercise, recreational activities, sufficient sleep, vacations, meditation, relaxation techniques, a sense of humor, auto-suggestion, self-hypnosis, creative visualization, massage and yoga, to name a few.

Negative coping includes smoking, drinking, drugs, food, tranquilizer and stimulants like tea and coffee.

At the fag end of this piece, we would not labor the point as to which strategies a reader should use. The choice is yours. And if making choices is a stressful activity for you, learn to view things backwards. Remember: STRESSED spelt backwards is DESSERTS! Happy distressing!

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