As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”. In urban India, the answer seems to have become a foregone conclusion. Almost akin to saying, if you are alive, you surely have stress! So if having stress is a given, let’s check your attitude towards stress. Is it driving or destroying you? Is it energising and invigorating, or is it extremely exhausting? Is it fantastic or fatiguing?
A simplistic diagnosis would be to ask you what your answer was. If you said ‘yes’ to the former all the time, that does make you a stress addict. Without stress you don’t move, but with stress you are all charged up – face flushed, eyes wide, heart pumping and blood racing through your arteries.
You may also have said ‘No’ to most of the questions. What then? You do seem to be at the end of your tether, don’t you? You seem to be swamped under the burden of your troubles. Or, the thought of stress puts you in panic mode. You are either overburdened with stress and close to burnout or you have stress phobia.
But why not do a quick 30-day stress analysis – a ‘how much’ and ‘where from’ check. You can understand the problem quickly, which will make working on the solution much easier too.
If work was “very exciting” then place a W on that day. If the work was “OK” then write 2 Ws. And if it was bad/tiring/disappointing, then give it 3 Ws. Follow this routine with all other areas too.
At the end of the week, total up each area individually. This matrix will help you quantify your stress areas, which you can reflect upon on a weekly or monthly basis. The more the Hs, the more the stress caused at home. The less the Rs, the healthier is your relationship quotient! The results may be exactly as you expected – confirming what you always knew. On the other hand, the results of the month may even be quite a revelation. Your perception may have been that home was a boiling pot of stress, but the totals may indicate that in fact, it was work.
Now, let us explore some solutions. A problem-solving approach, a change of attitude or a change of perception might help you address specific areas. But meanwhile, you need to burn the existing stress. Let us start with the top of the body and work down to the feet. It was about your lazy bones that Martin Lurther King Jr said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
1) Head, Neck, Face – When stress burdens us, like Atlas we tend to take the load on our shoulders. The muscles of the neck and shoulders go tight, the jaw clenches and the forehead goes into a frown. All this muscle tension soon results in a tension headache. Here are a few simple steps to beat the Atlas:
• Sit comfortably in a chair, legs and arms in an open position.
• Gently point your chin to the left shoulder, then right. Repeat it five times. Then point the chin up to the sky and down, five times.
• Rotate your neck very slowly – left shoulder, chest, right shoulder, back, left shoulder.
• Slowly reverse. Repeat five times.
• Now comes the silent scream – open your mouth wide, squeeze those eyes shut and let out a scream at a zero volume. This is a good preventive measure, though it may not help much if the headache is severe. Try it when you feel discomfort starting.
• Time taken: 5 minutes.
2) Chest – With stress, the chest feels heavy, the breathing short and uncomfortable and this only adds to the state of arousal. Try these quickies to breathe right.
• Sit with the back straight in, in an open body position.
• Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
• Slow your breath down to a count of four in, and then 4 out.
• When you breathe in, push the abdomen out and when you breathe out, pull the abdomen in.
• Now reverse count your breaths. Depending on the time available, start with 54 or 16. One count for breathe in and one for breathe out. When you reach zero, open your eyes.
• Now your breathing is slow: lower chest and lungs are being used, your oxygen requirement is being met and your body and mind are becoming calm.
• Time taken: 5 minutes
The value of a robust physical activity is many folds. Whether it is an hour of aerobics, Bollywood dance or salsa, a walk or jog around the park or a strenuous session of swimming, the benefits are felt by your heart, lungs and blood vessels. The muscles and the joints of the body are mobilised and strengthened. And most importantly, the stress impacts of hormones and neurochemicals are burned and reduced. Feel-good hormones or endorphins are released creating a sense of de-stress and wellbeing.
To the above list let’s add sports – tennis, football, basketball, hockey or cricket. With this, you will learn to work within a team, subjugate your ego for the group, rise to a leadership position if required, demand the best out of each teammate and rise to the challenge of a win!
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”. In urban India, the answer seems to have become a foregone conclusion. Almost akin to saying, if you are alive, you surely have stress!
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1. Head, Neck & Face
When stress burdens us, like Atlas we tend to take the load on our shoulders. The muscles of the neck and shoulders tighten, the jaw clenches and the forehead goes into a frown. All this muscle tension soon results in a tension headache. Here are a few simple steps to beat the Atlas:
- Sit comfortably in a chair, legs and arms in an open position.
- Gently point UR chin to the left shoulder, then right. Repeat it five times. Then point the chin up to the sky and down, five times.
- Rotate UR neck very slowly – left shoulder, chest, right shoulder, back, left shoulder.
- Slowly reverse. Repeat five times.
- Now comes the silent scream – open UR mouth wide, squeeze those eyes shut and let out a scream at a zero volume. This is a good preventive measure, though it may not help much if the headache is severe. Try it when you feel discomfort starting.
- Time taken: 5 minutes.
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Ways to a restful night’s sleep
Ways to a restful night’s sleep A restful night’s sleep is a luxury for many. There are loads of sleep-inducing teas, pills and sprays, that I sometimes feel may have a placebo effect if they are natural. Charmaine D’Souza’s mix for sleep works best for me. Try and stay away from sleep medication as much as possible, they are highly addictive. Early dinners at least four hours before bedtime can improve UR sleep quality and avoid indigestion, stomach cramps and bloating. Indigestion causes a lot of sleep disturbances. Flatulence while sleeping can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and can take a toll on UR sex life. Stretching & Relaxing post a hectic day sounds great but difficult to achieve. Do something that doesn’t stimulate UR mind, this includes all digital communication. If talking to people relaxes you then put them on speaker and lock the phone so you don’t see the blue light. Stretch every part of UR body if possible before sleeping. Exercising regularly reduces insomnia, mental stress, releases endorphins and regulates UR body temperature. Make sure you avoid strenuous exercise 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, however a very famous actor told me that he walks for 30 minutes post dinner to help the digestion process. Reduce fluid intake post 6pm. It’s not worth drinking tea, coffee or sugary substances post 6 pm. 80% of UR water consumption for the day must be complete by 6pm. This helps avoiding unnecessary pee breaks in the middle of UR sleep. Keep UR bedroom clean and linen smelling fresh and you will automatically feel relaxed and comfortable. I like to freeze the room, but my partner prefers the fan. Nevertheless, we both love clean smelling linen and make sure we burn camphor and sage in our rooms to remove negativity. Our spaces have to be clean and our bed side tables have to clutter free. It’s a rule.
What Is The Best Self-Care During The COVID-19 Crisis?
Self-care should be uppermost in our minds during the COVID-19 crisis, for several urgent reasons. Self-care returns a sense of control over your own life. It gives you an integrative approach to mind and body. It aligns you with the best knowledge currently available about who is more at risk for developing acute symptoms after being infected. Your immune status is complex, and in mainstream medicine the chief determining factor is traditionally considered to be genetic. However, there are strong links to underlying low-level chronic inflammation connected to lifestyle that is found in most if not all common disorders including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and even obesity. COVID-19 has a mortality rate that increases with age and pre-existing conditions, as we all know by now. What is less publicized is that the hospitalization rate, which is very high at over 15%, also affects younger age groups even though their death rates are lower. In those who are most susceptible, the virus creates an acute and severe form of inflammation referred to as a “cytokine storm”, which then leads to severe symptoms and respiratory damage, even death. Cytokines are the chief protein mediators of inflammation in the body. We can use this information about the dangers of having an elevated pre-existing state of low-level chronic inflammation to perhaps offset the possibility of the kind of acute inflammation that puts a person at risk for severe infection and hospitalization. Let me emphasize the “perhaps” caution. The research on low-level chronic inflammation grows by the year and is very significant. You can go to many websites or our recent book “The Healing Self” to discover the kinds of foods and lifestyles that are either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. But it is only in the field of integrative medicine that there is a cumulative understanding that anti-inflammation practices need to embrace mind and body. The general public, including mainstream doctors, are more often than not ill-informed of the research that connects meditation and yoga to the benefits of anti-stress, anti-inflammation, and anti-infection. Without a doubt, meditation and yoga have no side effects and are backed by decades of research over their benefits. To this has been added so-called “vagal breathing”, related to the ability of the vagus nerve to induce a relaxed state simply by doing regular deep breathing that equalizes breathing in and breathing out (there are numerous websites providing instructions on this simple but effective technique, which is now a standard recommendation for countering stress). Biophysical anthropologist William C. Bushell points to the damage created by the body’s own immune defenses. To quote a recent article at Medium.com by Maureen Seaberg, “Bushell says that inflammation is the primary way COVID-19 kills. ‘Spread of the virus through the body leads to widespread and intensive activation of the inflammatory defenses throughout the body, though originally intended to combat the pathogen, but at this point instead resulting in widespread tissue damage, and fatally, to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which the lungs become flooded and respiratory failure ensues; the viral toxins themselves play a much lesser role in the tissue damage that ultimately can produce extreme critical disease states (pulmonary aspiration, septic shock), and potentially death.” The uncharted frontier is whether chronic inflammation, which is thought to be widely prevalent in our stress-filled, junk food eating, sleep-deprived society, increases the odds that the body might erupt into acute inflammation, e.g. a cytokine storm, when infected with viruses like COVID-19. One can think of this of this storm as a kind of over-reaction by our immune system. The big question is whether low-grade chronic inflammation may set the stage for this over-reaction and increase the odds of a “cytokine storm” in the presence of a nasty virus like COVID-19. Meanwhile, meditation, yoga, vagal breathing, and other relaxation techniques might provide an edge in the current crisis by reducing the chronic inflammatory state of the body. We’ve joined Bushell and other concerned figures, including Michelle Williams, S.D., Dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health, in advising that meditation and yoga (in addition to a healthy diet and ample sleep) be included in front-line efforts against COVID-19. The public is woefully uninformed about the mind-body benefits of these simple, effective measures, and every model of the pandemic foresees a huge overload on this country’s hospitals. The virus is more contagious and infectious than the flu, and it hospitalizes and kills a much higher percentage of cases. The message about COVID-19 and inflammation is very important. It needs to be received by all of us for our common well-being at any time, but most urgently, now, we all must strive to reduce our base level of chronic inflammation. DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 89 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. His 90th book, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D. is the Vice-Chair of Neurology, Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit, Co-Director of the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health, and Co-Director of the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also serves as the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Tanzi discovered several Alzheimer’s disease genes, including all three early-onset familial Alzheimer’s genes, and serves as director of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project. He is also developing therapies for treating and preventing AD using human mini-brain organoid models of the disease, pioneered in his laboratory. Dr. Tanzi has published 600 papers, received numerous awards and was on the 2015 TIME100 Most Influential People in the World list. Dr. Tanzi is a New York Times bestselling author, who has co-authored “Decoding Darkness” and three bestsellers with Deepak Chopra: “Super Brain”, “Super Genes”, and “The Healing Self”.
5 Tips To Strengthen UR Familial Bonds
'Blood is thicker than water', an ancient proverb tells it all about familial bonds. Families may have their problems and jealousies, but in times of dire need, you are better off having a family member on standby. There are various kinds of relationships and friendship is an important one. As per the Oxford dictionary, friendship is defined as a 'relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other'. If you happen to have a family member who is also a close friend, you have the best of everything. However, if there is consistent reciprocity, understanding, compassion and honesty, an acquaintanceship can turn into friendship. The conversion is more likely when one experiences a level of comfort in the company of the other to be himself and express fearlessly. Age is no bar to form a relationship. A good relationship is like a fuel that strengthens our health, mind and connections with others. On the other hand, if the relationship isn't working, it can drain a person physically and emotionally. Seeking professional help may include individual therapy to raise emotional awareness and assertiveness, or couple and family sessions to help tidy the unattended issues. Seeking help, in my opinion, is a sign of strength, not weakness. 01 Communicate Effectively Remember the key to a healthy relationship is effective communication. The fundamental of excellent communication is to listen more and talk less. This will leave the other feeling valued. It's wise to accept the views of others without feeling challenged or threatened. Speak calmly without losing composure or unduly asserting UR thoughts. 02 Choose Humanistic Contact Technological advances have connected us to people across the world but disconnected from those with and around us. I suggest you choose direct one to one contact over texting, email and clicking the 'like' button on Social Media. Personal engagement is always better than a digital one. Make sure you look into the person's eyes while speaking. U must pay attention as a mark of respect. 03 Leave No Loose Ends Ensure that any growing differences are attended promptly, especially in romantic relationships. Understand that relationships are dynamic, therefore warrant a proactive response to change. Loose ends in relationship matters enhance emotional burden and bury the core issue. 04 Accept And Adapt Queen Elizabeth allegedly stated 'grief is the price we pay for love'. Which means we need to accept some loss if we want to love. It is essential to recognize that there are ups and downs in every relationship and nothing is permanent. Relationship breakdowns should not be seen as rejection or failure which can drive withdrawal, agitation, depression and even suicidal behaviour. For a lasting relationship, ongoing investment is the key. Learn to temper UR attachment and let go of the relationship when it isn't working. Make sure you give it UR best shot before breaking relationships as once the damage is done, it’s very hard to be rectified. 05 Allow Space, Invest More And Expect Less Insecurity breeds possessiveness and a claustrophobic feeling. Therefore allow space in UR relationship, have basic trust and avoid undue involvement. Relationships are an investment. The more you put in, the more returns you can get back. All that is required is patience and consistency. When you expect nothing, you always get more. Stay Happy and Learn to Live to the fullest. Spread Positivity and try UR best to Strengthen Family Ties.
How To Settle The Mind During A Crisis
At first only a few voices spoke of positive change after the COVID crisis ends, or at least becomes livable once again. Now one hears a chorus calling for change, much of it from younger people. The main message is about global cooperation and preparing better for the next pandemic. But I think people are pondering personal change, too. In the midst of widespread trepidation, what are the new goals that each of us might start pursuing right now? The first goal should be a settled mind. Fear is persuasive and panic easily goes viral. At the best of times most people turn their backs on worrisome problems rather than dealing with them directly. But unless you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you can settle your mind and go beyond fear. The first steps to gaining mastery over fear are open to everyone, as follows. • Sit down and candidly talk about your level of anxiety. Assemble the adults in your family, and perhaps older teenagers. Discuss your feelings in the context of getting past them. • Don’t dwell on anxious thoughts. When one arises, say to yourself, “This isn’t helping. Go away, I don’t need you.” Talking back to the voice in your head is actually effective. • Plan rationally for the situation you find yourself in. Problems can be divided into three categories: things you can fix, things you have to put up with, and things you should walk away from. Take each individual issue that faces you, and write down which category it falls into. Most people aggravate their worries through indecision. They vacillate between trying to fix something, putting up with it, and fantasizing about running away from it. Be clear in your reasoning; pick one strategy from the three, then stick to it. • Empathize with other people’s anxiety, but don’t make it a daily habit. Be helpful and reassuring. If this doesn’t work, you should tune out the most anxious complaints and focus on anything positive that emerges. • Be creative with your free time. Idle minds are fear’s playground. • Don’t obsess over the news. Limit your viewing time to short periods two or three times a day. This is a crisis unfolding in slow motion. You don’t have to keep up with it minute by minute. • Seek consoling and uplifting things to read and listen to. • Devote some time several times a day to sit quietly, close your eyes, and use deep, regular breathing to reach a settled state inside. If you are patient enough to practice regular meditation, do that. • Write down a vision of your future as you would like to live it after the crisis passes. Detail all the things you want to achieve and experience. • Foster hope in your immediate circle, but don’t make it up if you don’t actually feel hopeful. • Take time every day to do something that makes you smile and laugh. As you can see, none of these things are mysterious. They are available to everyone, and if you seriously undertake it, the project of defeating fear is more than doable. At a more inward level, you can also confront the misleading ideas that anxiety fosters, replacing them with positive ideas any time they recur. First, the false ideas that are typically born of fear: • If I worry, it shows I care. • I have to worry because others around me don’t seem to. • By worrying I am fending off the worst things that might happen. • Sometimes the things I worry about come true, which justifies all the times they do not come true. • Worrying doesn't hurt anybody, so why not worry? • The world is hard and life is difficult. It is only healthy to worry. • I know my worries make me feel bad, but that's the price I am willing to pay. • A lot of people worry, so I am not alone. At the very least I get a lot of reinforcement on the news and in social media. • If I worry now, it's a kind of insurance that will help me not be hurt in the future when bad stuff happens. • Worry shows my family that I love them. • If my anxiety touches others, they will want to help and take care of me without me having to ask. Habitual worriers will recognize these familiar thoughts, and all of us entertain some of them in anxious times. But each thought is the product of fear. Clear, positive thoughts should be put in place of them, as follows: • Despite my worries, I am safe and cared for. • Any problem is best dealt with when it actually occurs. • Planning for a bad eventuality should be done once, take very little time, and then left alone. • If you have coped in the past, you can trust yourself to cope now and tomorrow. • Worrying is pointless as a way to solve anything. It blocks the part of the mind that actually solves problems. • If you feel bad from anxiety, your hurt is self-inflicted, and getting out of the hurt involves taking responsibility for your own reactions. • The people around you do not like you better because you worry about them. They find it a nuisance but do not want to oppose you, so they adapt and put up with it. • Worrying drives others away. • Worrying blocks a healthy sense of self because it is basically an expression of insecurity. • Anxiety doesn't protect you from future hurt. It actually brings hurt into the here and now. • You are not your fears, but if you accept that you are, personal growth is blocked. You might even find it helpful to take these two lists and discuss each item with people close to you. The project of overcoming fear knows no specific time and place. In normal times we should be gaining control over fear to the extent we can. Now, however, the need to settle the mind is more urgent than ever. 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Heal UR life: How to deal with addiction?
Heal UR life: How to deal with addiction? Addiction is a process that doesn't happen overnight; it is a gradual process. It can be a habit or compulsion to do anything. From shopping endlessly to alcohol to drugs and even domestic violence, it is a dysfunction that looks like a 'reward' often lacking the concern of its dire consequences. In this new episode of Heal UR Life, I would like to explain what addiction is, how we can overcome it, and what the best ways to get rid of it! Addiction or dependency is never a good idea, we should always have a choice and you should never be controlled by what you do. One of the most common addictions that plague youngsters of the nation today is smartphones. However, we are addicted to everything around us! It is the accessibility of things in these times that have made us addicted to certain things. Same is the case with certain foods, coffee, tea or even people for that matter. As the preconceived notions go, we need to widen our spectrum of addiction and look at it in a different way from what we already know. According to data from the Ministry of Social Justice, 26% of alcohol abusers and 25% of cannabis abusers show symptoms of dependency in India. When you are dependent on things and they run out, you begin to panic and realise how dependant U R. For example, tobacco is running out during the lockdown period, people who are addicted to nicotine do not know what to do without smokes. Such a situation is never a good sign. You may ask what dependency is and how you can find out if you too show signs of addiction or dependency! Well, addiction is when people consume or use certain things on an everyday basis. In case of alcohol, a person who is drinking every day is more likely to be addicted. Alcohol, cigarettes or drugs give the abuser a sense of compulsion, or the need to have it, which leads to struggle. Once that habit kicks in, there is no stopping. I like to call it the three Cs of addiction—compulsion, Craving and Loss of Control. Drinking every day and suddenly going cold turkey might not be a sure-shot sign of addiction from a diagnostic point of view. The signs and symptoms have to show for about a year to be called an addiction. Call it an excessive drinking habit or binge drinking, an addict tends to drink despite showing signs of difficulty in social behaviour at work, in a relationship or even when facing financial constraints. Signs of an addict • Unable to stay away from the substance • Lack of self-control • Denial of their problem causing behaviour • Lack of emotional responsibility Drinking pattern is one of the first things that's checked among people. Questions like how many drinks do you take, frequency of drinking, among others describe addiction. The body becomes dependant and gets used to alcohol and with time you need to drink more to get the same effects. Moving on to drugs, the features of addiction remain the same. The three Cs stay the same. The difference with drugs is that immediate consequences start showing right after consumption. For example, cocaine starts showing its effect instantly, but cigarettes take years to show its problems. Marijuana doesn't cause physical dependency like in the case of nicotine or alcohol. It's more psychological with cannabis and the sort of addiction that takes years to realise. The problem with drugs, alcohol and nicotine is that over time, you crave it because of the physical dependency on it. Addiction meter Alcohol – Most toxic substance Cocaine – Psychotic behaviour Smoking – Most addictive chemical Sleeping pills/tranquiliser – Develop tolerance, highly dependant With the lockdown in place, withdrawal symptoms start showing up due to the lack of supply. This is when a feeling of anxiousness and irritability will kick in. Insomnia and anxiety will show up as well. Restlessness and shakings in significant cases are very apparent. In severe cases, an addict can also get fits, get confused, develop psychosis and can go into a coma as well. As far as dealing with addicts is concerned, severe patients need to be taken into a hospital emergency instantly. Family & loved ones face the most trauma in such situations. I suggest that the family or an individual should grab this opportunity of the lockdown to seek professional help if the addiction is too strong. Medicines like tranquilisers work on people who have mild withdrawal symptoms. However, those with severe withdrawal symptoms require detoxification medicine as a substitute. These medicines are available strictly on a prescription basis. Online consultation is one way to get a prescription for these medications if you are feeling severe withdrawal symptoms. The alcohol withdrawal symptoms can show up within 48 to 72 hours, and medical help is necessary as it can be dangerous. Nicotine, on the other hand, can take a week or two to show withdrawal symptoms. However, a healthy diet and increasing exercise can help you come out of the addiction. Don't panic, seek medical help and let the medical professional figure out UR category of addiction to suggest appropriate treatment options. There is nothing wrong with seeking medical assistance. Will power is required to stay off something, but first, seek medical help to deal with addiction or substance abuse. When I meet an addict, it is always about asking the right kind of questions and open-ended questions that are comforting. Qualified practitioners never demean their patients, in fact, act as a solid support system. Questions like "Tell me about UR drinking habits?" "Do you think you drink more than you should?" "Has drinking gone up with time?" are the right way to get answers. It is these kinds of questions that people open up to and finally acknowledge their problems. When they are ready for reform, a gentle nudge from loved ones helps them come out of addiction. If you have any questions regarding addiction, please email me at email@example.com.
A Breath Of Relaxation With Guided Meditation
The human mind absorbs and stores both the good and bad energy of its surroundings. Therefore, considering all the stressors that exist within the environment we live in, it’s quite natural that our mind and body show signs of anxiety and stress. To cope with stress levels, every individual has his/her unique choice of intervention. However, among all of the stress-relieving activities, meditation has gained significant momentum in the past few decades. And one of the many types of meditation routines that can help alleviate stress, anxiety and improve focus is a guided meditation, which has gained a lot of attention and appreciation due to its efficiency and consistency. So let’s understand how we can integrate this type of meditation in our lifestyles. What Is Guided Meditation? Guided meditation is a form of meditation where participants meditate in response to the guidance and instructions provided by an expert, teacher or practitioner. The format of communication between the instructor and the student could be either in person or via music, video or written text. The instructive nature of this format of meditation makes it easier for the individual to be much more structured and ordered in their practice. Nowadays, there are many guided meditation videos available online, which can help you meditate with ease. How We Can Incorporate It In Our Lifestyle Meditation is an activity that can be performed anywhere and anytime without prior preparation. The only thing to keep in mind is to channel all your focus on the task of meditation. Guided meditation, as the name suggests, helps an individual meditate without the burden of thinking about how and what to do if he/she is unfamiliar with the task. Meditation could also mean that a person is sitting in silence and reflecting upon life. The trouble with such types of meditative practices is that there is no framework to it. On the contrary, guided meditative practices have a finite set of instructions, which makes the process easier. If you are looking for long-term benefits, meditative practices only during episodes of stress may not be quite as effective. Try to include 10-15 minutes of guided meditation routine either in the night or morning, depending on your schedule, every day, without fail to reap its full benefits. Once you are comfortable with 15-minute intervals, you can increase the duration and go up to one hour, if time permits. However, most individuals will be able to stay focused and relaxed up to 30 minutes, if practised daily. Benefits Of Guided Meditation • As opposed to other meditative practices, guided meditation saves you the trouble of planning the routine, as it is pre-recorded or designed. You can either drop by a class and follow the instructions or plug in your earphones and follow the guidelines. • It reduces stress hormones in the body and promotes a sense of well-being. • 15-30 minute episodes of meditation practised daily have shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension. • It leads to slower brain wave activities, which helps in reducing the stress all the while triggering human growth hormones (HGH). • It also helps in reducing inflammation by neutralising acidosis, thus minimising pain as well. With technology at our fingertips, meditation has become an easily accessible practice. Moreover, many apps are now available on your smartphone that can give you instructions about meditation and how to start meditating, if you are new to it. Give these meditative practices a try to live a stress-free life!
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Five Ways To Train UR Brain During COVID-19 Lockdown
COVID-19 has pushed us back against the wall with the unprecedented lockdowns throughout the world. We are surely trying to live with this novel coronavirus in every way possible. And with things are opening up in due course. While we are all waiting to go back to normal, our brain has been kind of redundant in the past 2-3 months. The unprecedented changes in our lifestyle due to this lockdown, we need to train our brains to improve cognitive and social skills. Learning new skills, setting new goals and challenges for the brain are part of the training to keep our minds functional. Here are the top 5 ways in which you can train your brain for a more cognitively active lifestyle. Diversity is the key. Our activities in daily life rely on several brain or cognitive functions. They include memory, language, planning and speed of processing, among other things. Different types of activities allow us to train our brain do learn more thinking skills. Doing crosswords puzzles, for instance, maybe a great way to teach language and short-term memory. Set smart goals When you are sitting inactive at home, the best way to get back on track is to set goals. But don't set the bar too high. Instead, look to monitor your small goals. When you are done with one part and want to move forward, revise them and aim for a bit higher. Your goal should be about doing a new task in defined time or even achieving a higher difficulty level in a set timeframe. Brain workouts Brain workouts are a great way to train your grey matter. Research has shown that it isn't compulsory to exercise the brain every day. Instead, doing a 'brain workout' session of 30-60 minutes in a week is a great way to keep going. After you've completed the task, try to use these newly-learned skills in your daily activities. This will help you transfer the gains of the brain workout into your day-to-day operations. Overcoming challenges Always remember that the more challenging the activity, the more chances of sharpening your cognitive ability. It might happen with you that you will not be able to conquer the set goals. It can be either because of setting the bar too high or things going beyond your control. It is in these times that you will have to overcome the obstacles by planning meticulously instead of giving up. Better together Ever heard of the phrase two heads are better than one? Well, it works great in the gym for you, right? Try that when you are doing cognitive training. It will not only be more enjoyable but may also increase our level of effort. It will also help you overcome boredom. Not in the mood to do it with face to face? Try going on video calls with your friends and train together.
Embrace Work-life Harmony
Stress, anxiety and pressure have become the highlight of our everyday conversation these days. While these words were not frequently used just two decades ago, in today’s time, they have become the causes of so many physical ailments. Stress has been termed as “World Wide Epidemic” by the World Health Organization. What Is Harmonious Work-Life? Work-life harmony is all about integrating all the aspects – work, family, health, friendship - together and like musical notes, making a melody by joining all the elements at the right time so that a melodious song is produced! The idea is to achieve harmony with a focus on one thing at a time. Ways To Achieve Work-Life Harmony Become Self Aware We all know knowledge is power, and learning about self is like having unlimited power. Being self-aware is the key to bringing harmony in life. Some specific actions or reactions may drain or increase our energy. Identifying these can help in avoiding irrelevant results and replacing them with a response instead. Be Mindful and Prioritise The four aspects of our life – Work, Family, Self/ Health and Friends are all important, but keeping all the elements happy all the time is too much to ask for from yourself. Prioritising helps in knowing which aspect needs attention more according to the circumstances. It can help to bring both personal and professional life to a balanced position, and life becomes much more comfortable at both ends. Communicate Effectively Communication plays a paramount role when creating harmony between work and personal life. While there will be times where failure may strike in, communication is the best tool to consider to hold oneself strong. Transparent communication with loved ones, colleagues, bosses or friends can facilitate in being on track. It’s important to interact and be clear with the situations that come across. If things are not going right, there’s always a better choice which is to communicate with the people involved in that situation. Develop Core Habits Core habits are essentially a practice that we start following as it gives us overall life satisfaction; these habits may form intentionally or even unintentionally. Core habits create a domino effect bringing a positive change in all the aspects of our life, thus making it easier to achieve fulfilment in our lives. For instance, core habits can be working out after a stressful day at work or starting the day with meditation, which helps in increasing the level of satisfaction. What are your Core Habits? Write down three habits that will make you feel happier, regardless of how difficult and stressful your day has been. Try this exercise, and you can see yourself analyse so much about a situation you may be in, and help you find your solutions, because, problems come to you only when you have an answer. Attaining work-life harmony is not an easy task, but it’s also not impossible to do. Although it requires one to keep reinventing and learning what works and what doesn’t, the takeaway is extremely beneficial as it leads to less stress, less guilt and more peace of mind.
What’s The Difference Between A Friend, A Therapist And A Guru?
At different points in our lives, we have needed a friend, a therapist, and a mentor to push us through the difficulties, share our happiness and guide us to a better tomorrow. However, they are all different and play different roles in our lives. So, what is the real difference between them? One of the easiest ways to find that out is to as these simple questions, “What role does this person play? To what end? For how long?” If you can get answers to these, you can very well understand each of them and move ahead in life. Friend A friend is supposed to take your side. They need to have unconditional love for you, where right or wrong shouldn’t matter. They are someone who stand by you, take your side and make sure that they are there for in every situation. A friend is someone you can partly take for granted as well because they have your interest in the place. They are neither certified nor are trained practitioners, but the advice that they give you are out of the shared experience of your lives. You also need to set some boundaries and rules, and you should choose a minimum of 5 people who will always be by your side for the rest of your life. You have to cultivate the sort of friendship from your school or college days, where you spend time with them, understand and make a comfort zone around them. You have to make sure that these relations are platonic, and you do not reach any uncomfortable situation in these relationships. You should also let your parents or partners or sibling know about your friends. As a matter of fact, these friends could include your partner or siblings who are in this “5 friends” relationship with you. Friendship is sacred as the rules of friendship are strong. They include, • Sticking by you Being available for you • Understanding your needs • Syncing and growing together • Building a relationship together As friends, you need to have a positive influence on each other, rather than draining each other out. This is what a friend should be. Therapist A therapist is a trained professional who you seek for help. Therapists are not supposed to be judgemental. By practice, they are certified professionals who do not have to judge you and listen to you. Their job is to teach you how to deal or cope up with the urgent situation that you are facing. When a therapist teaches you how to deal with a situation, you will learn to deal with more similar situations or even worse in a better manner. Some of us have deep-rooted issues, and they don’t know who to speak with. That’s where a therapist comes in to help you figure the problem and deal with it in a better manner. Therapists also prescribe medication, as it is essential for you to heal with medication. They also prescribe alternative therapies. Before going to a therapist, you must do your homework. You must understand what you are visiting the therapist for and what you want out of it. Don’t go with high expectations and understand your needs before visiting a therapist, as they are expensive. So choose them wisely, closer to home, within your budget, and can give your benefits out of those therapy sessions. Guru/Mentor A guru or mentor is a person who you seek advice from at different times of your life, depending on what you need. Say you want to start a new business, it is this guru or mentor who will help you move in the right direction. These people give you advice. You can look at their life and experiences and gain from them. Depending on what you want to achieve in life, you have to choose your mentor. That’s the essential part of the process. It is also crucial to choose a set of mentors. Make sure that you learn your lessons from them before moving on to the next one. It will lead to confusion where you might learn anything even with the best of help. Dive deeper into your questions. If you can get a personal session with your guru, then there is nothing better. Or else, you can keep following them on their website or YouTube channels. Study their lives and understand their successes. Take what you feel will help you grow. This is the difference between a friend, a therapist and a mentor or guru. Always remember that all three are your well-wishers, and you need to have them all in your life. Choose who you want to, to succeed in life. And segregate them in different compartments, which will help you become a better person in life.
Managing A Heavy Workload With Motivation
If you feel you are overloaded with work and have heaps of tasks to complete, keep in mind that there are a few individuals in your team or at your workplace who would be happy to go beyond their job descriptions, so before you complain about a workload stop and try to be your driving force. It is instances such as these that demand you adopt the Happy A.X.E principle to proceed with deeper self-introspection over priorities. Therefore go ahead and make the most of the Happy A.X.E rule to stay motivated and upbeat about your work! And remember, a positive and optimistic outlook can go a long way! A-Access Vs. Excess Time On Your Hands Are you under stress because you have less time to access the work, or excess work needs to be done at the earliest? Besides the push from your reporting manager, are there other factors causing stress? Try to identify them and cut them down one by one. Remember, you are giving your best to bring positive results but be open to constructive criticism later. Convincing yourself to unload the work pressure is the first step to feel motivated. X-Xerox The Exact Idea Vs. Apply The Advice Are you open to seeking help from others during this period? One of your colleagues or seniors might have been in a similar situation earlier. So there is nothing wrong with asking for help but see to it that it does not turn into asking for favours. You may implement their advice in your work and seek further help later with their permission. Also, don’t forget that making peace with the people around is essential to help you stay motivated while being honest with your work. Present Vs. Living In The Future When was the last time you enjoyed working overtime? Compare and assess the efforts that you put in during those days with the present work. Give yourself two realistic self-deadlines and work with proper dedication, keeping all distractions away. This will help you feel comfortable while you give your hundred per cent, regardless of the pressure. Working in a high-stress environment is different from working with highly stressed individuals. Engaging yourself and your team through outbound training sessions with the help of professional transformational training experts can help you prevent such instances in the future as the team members do not just take a break but give a break to each other holistically. The team’s abilities are also improved, and leadership qualities are enhanced. What’s more, personal conflicts or intragroup conflicts too are resolved, and communication skills are boosted, leading to better bonding and collaboration. You may be giving your best to bring positive results but convincing yourself to unload the work pressure is the first step to feel motivated. Even though you want to be motivated and inspired to complete all of your tasks, there may be times when you may not feel any motivation at all. There’s also no denying that sometimes, motivation is hard to get hold of. Staring at our screens and simply not being able to get through the work, no matter how hard we try, is an instance we can all relate to. At times like these, you have to get your act together and look for real and practical solutions to be able to get the job done and also inspire yourself. Fortunately, there are certain tricks and tips to help you get motivated in no time at all! Stay Motivated And Upbeat About Your Work Stop thinking of the work as hard and consider it as something that is propelling you towards what you want to be. Envision the task is already completed and also think about how good that would make you feel! Chasing a big goal can be scary at times, as you may not know where to begin! So it’s best to break your goals down into small bite-size goals so that each time you make some progress, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and will be motivated to continue. When you need to complete a task, you will probably not think about doing anything else or for that matter, pick up a book and read! But reading can help you find the motivation you are lacking! Additionally, it’s a profoundly inspiring habit to acquire. Moreover, when you have a deadline to reach, ignore all irrelevant activities and forge ahead to complete your unfinished work by getting rid of anything that wastes your time and always sticks to the activities that apply to a larger goal. Some of the other natural ways to find motivation are to allow yourself some downtime and once refreshed, dive into your task again. Also, remember to celebrate your small wins and reward yourself for staying motivated and on top of things!
5 Ways To Calm UR Mind During Stressful Times
Life throws chaos at us on a regular basis—from finances to our relationships and health. The latest chaos that has gripped the world is the novel coronavirus. The world has been dealing with the COVID-19 for almost five months now and there has been no end to it. While many of us have been working from home to meet the targets; stress kicks in many ways to push us back. In response to that, we try to survive on our adrenaline. Overworking, drinking another cup of coffee; we respond to the emails and get the work done. We think that if we stay up and work, we get things done. But all it does is that it burns us out, drain our productivity, and lead to exhaustion. Coping with stress To relieve stress, it is important to come up with a strategy to relax your mind and body. Here are the five quick and easy ways to regain calmness so that you can deal with different situations. 1. Take a Walk Exercise can be a great stress reliever. Exercising releases the feel-good hormone called endorphins. Walking brings the stress levels down and also helps you gain short-term and long term benefits like increase fitness of heart, stronger bones and improved balance. Walking will also help you get off work and return to it in a new frame of mind which is optimistic and determined. 2. Take a Breath Breathing exercises are a great way to instant calm URself. More oxygen into UR body means that you will feel a calm state. It also releases the physical tension that’s gripping you. And the fun part about this exercise is that you can do them anytime or anywhere. 3. Take a Mental Break If you want to restore UR peace of mind, then visualizations and guided imagery are a wonderful way to do it. Just close UR eyes and imagine scenery or a place that calms you down. It can help you in relaxing both physically and mentally. With practice, you will be able to access your "happy place" and quickly feel relaxed when stressed. 4. Reframe Your Situation We tend to maximise our stress just by the way we perceive them. One way to deal with situations and the arising stress out of them is to look at them differently. Put a different perspective to it and see how it changes UR situation. Pessimism and other self-sabotaging thought patterns are meant to cause stress and problem, but if you change the way you look at problems, it'll come in handy when you're stressed. 5. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique in which you tense and release all of UR muscle groups, leaving your body more relaxed in the process. PMR is a great technique that can be practised by anyone. With continuous practice and use, you can fully release the tensions that are gripping you in a matter of seconds.
Know Your Limits: Wake Up To The Reality Of Drinking Sensibly!
We hate restrictions and regulations. Consequently, we are driven either consciously or unconsciously to override them. We like to lose control, but are inherently programmed to retain it! Alcohol is perceived as a substance that lets you be – something that gives you the deceptive confidence to shed your inhibitions and even bring out UR true self! You may have come across someone who drinks like a fish and is yet able to stand tall amongst the less tolerant intoxicated. Here is an alcoholic in the making. Excess intake of alcohol opens a Pandora’s Box of health and social problems. As said by Paracelsus, the father of Toxicology, ‘the dose makes the poison!’ Officially, Indians are amongst the world’s lowest consumers of alcohol, but we seem to have a way around it. How? Over half the drinkers fall in the hazardous drinking category! Further, about 15-20 per cent of this lot go on to become addicts or develop dependency syndrome. So whether you are a responsible social drinker or an addict, you definitely won’t get ‘high’ knowing that alcohol is one of the most toxic substances known to man! Unfortunately, it’s readily and legally available worldwide. As we are currently spoilt for choice, it becomes impossible to know how much is too much! This applies to everything we do, be it the food we eat, the money we seek, and importantly that drink we indulge in. Why We Need To Worry About Drinking Studies suggest that alcohol is connected to more than 60 types of diseases and injuries. For instance, alcohol is a risk factor for oesophageal cancer, liver cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver, stroke, and psychiatric illnesses including suicide, motor vehicle accidents and homicide. There has been an upward surge in patterns and trends of alcohol use in India. People are now drinking at a younger age and in the past two decades; the average age of initiation of alcohol intake has fallen from 19 to 13! The signature pattern of alcohol consumption is frequent and heavy drinking, with more than 90 per cent of alcohol consumption being in the form of hard liquor or distilled spirits. Alarmingly, only 40 per cent of these are branded. The Blame Game! According to the government, powerful international and domestic alcohol lobbies are targeting our young. There are multinationals at work trying to harvest the potential in India’s vast unexploited market for investment in production and distribution of alcohol and alcoholic products. The film industry glorifies drinking: Good guys, drink and good times are associated with intoxication! Limiting individual alcohol intake and drinking sociably and sensibly is the first step towards responsible drinking. In recognition of the global health issues with alcoholism, the World Health Organization (WHO) kicked in 2012 by sounding out national governments on setting a global target for reducing per capita consumption of alcohol. But the move seems to have hit a roadblock for in April, the WHO dropped it, citing poor support from member states! But why wait until countries and states decide on strategies for reducing alcohol consumption? Limiting individual alcohol intake and drinking sociably and sensibly is the first step towards responsible drinking. For this, drinks need to be quantified, and the guidelines for alcohol intake need to be understood. Count Your Drinks The health authorities in the UK worked on guidelines for alcohol consumption far back in 1981. They very aptly titled it, ‘Drinking Sensibly’ which contained the detailed definition of alcohol misuse and the introduction to the concept of sensible drinking. Three years later, it was followed with guidelines on individual drinking. The latter too was aptly titled, ‘That’s the Limit!’ which outlined ‘safe limits’ for drinking. Their follow-up reports in 1995 formed the basis for quantifying alcohol volume in units and individual drinking guidelines (21 units a week for men and 14 for women). A couple of years later, these guidelines were changed from weekly limits to daily limits. Here are a few points from the new guidelines: Men: 3-4 units a day or less Women: 2-3 units a day or less After an episode of heavy drinking, refrain from drinking for 48 hours to allow the body tissues to recover Units are a fundamental concept used in guidelines on alcohol consumption. Approximately, one unit equals to a 25 ml measure of spirits like whisky, or half a pint of ordinary strength (4 per cent) beer, 100 ml of 10 per cent wine. Therefore, a ‘large’ peg of whisky has two units; a can of regular beer has about 1.5 units; and 175 ml glass of wine contains two units. Awareness about alcohol consumption and associated health hazards, as well as sensible drinking limits, may help to contain and reduce the intake. Also, what we urgently require is education and awareness programmes on the perils of alcoholism and hazardous drinking.