Smiling Techniques to balance tough days

Sometimes, things are tough – some deal with stress like a simmering pot, bubbling over relentlessly. Unfortunately, that’s been me for quite some time. This is how I’m balancing it out – and I am putting it out, hoping it helps someone else as well.

It begins as a low hum – the kind you get with white noise, building up with their demands, opinions and needs. Deliverables from work, deliverables from home, expectations to fulfill and demands to meet.. When everyone seems to be after you, questioning, whether this is done or that is achieved. And it feels…. as if they’re all judging you over it – on the number of roles that you are juggling with.

For me, these buttons take the form of voices, which can often rise high. And have led to moments where I lose my cool. And snap. Worst yet – you snap on those who are simply there.

Watch out for these warning signs:

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Bubbling trouble. (GIF courtesy: Imgur)

This maybe someone you know – or not. But it is a sign of things that need to be addressed. A recent piece by the American Psychological Association marks the following as signs of a deeper, build-up of stress :

Physical signs:

  • Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain…
  • An Upset Stomach
  • Chest Pains, Rapid Heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Increasing frequency of colds

Mental signs:

  • Lack of concentration, focus
  • Memory problems or forgetfulness
  • Jitters
  • Anxiety

Psychological signs:

  • Irritability
  • Short Temper
  • Lack of appetite or overindulgence in comfort eating
  • Loss of sleep / disturbed sleep

Talking it out, seeking an ear is an automated solution that people opt for. But while you’re addressing the bigger fish, how do you cope with the daily ins and outs? Brooding, imagining it doesn’t exist, assigning blame are some ways that people usually take. These may become too near-sighted and reactionary; bringing more stress towards you.

Then what do you do?

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I look for smiles. Breathe. Acknowledge and try to move ahead, even if it doesn’t happen right then and there.

Breathe – it will pass:

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Imagine a pot near boiling point – the liquid is frothing, the heat is intense and it’s about to rise and bubble over. What would you do? Turn off the heat, blow over it or pretend it’s not that bad? What you choose determines how you cope with such a scenario.

I breathe and blow over – stepping off the heat may or may not be in my hands at all times, even though many pretend that it is there. And then there are times when I snap. And it’s needed as well.

Look for smiles:

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Solutions may take time. Things will change at their pace and often the answers that actually work for you, may be slow on the uptake. Smiles don’t. Find and place things, memories and moments which attract them towards you.

I recent built a smile central for myself at work (see above).

Acknowledge:

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Problems don’t go away with time and the best intentions need a push every day. Till you’re perfect on both, it’s not over. So, what can one do?  Acknowledge each stress point and step back. Consider them objectively – are they logical and practical? In case, they are, then your solutions need to be addressed to self; if not then to the outside environment.

And then step back a bit.

Use the energy:

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It’s ancient, programmed and hard-wired. A standard stress situation, engineers the body into a flight-or-fight mode, building adrenalin reserves and setting the mode to flip either ways. The situation, is apt for quick action, but tough to live with, if the energy is not used.

Living near the boiling point brings one quite to the head with this mode, which is not good for clear thought, mind and a healthy life. So, burn it. Hit the floor for 10 pushups, walk out and head to the store or imagine yourself at a place in time where you were on top. And stay till you can feel it leave.

Alternately, tearing up can also help, though a good cry needs to be followed up with several feel good measures.

‘It’s hard to move ahead with too much baggage – so lighten the load instead’.

Hope this helps!