In the storm of stress, many of us tend to lose ourselves in our desperate search of shelter. Sonia Samtani Hathiramani guides to find a space within, which could help weather any scene.
Hong Kong may be touted as Asia’s World City, but of late it is simply tumbling towards lower ranks on the happiness chart of Asian cities. Academic pressures for the youth and financial constraints for adults have reportedly been the strongest stress stimulants, which often lead to imbalanced and unfulfilled lifestyles. In search of answers, ADesiflava recently caught up with Sonia Samtani Hathiramani, founder and director of All About Your Wellness Centre. She reminded us that our “mind is the gateway to [our] wellness,” as she shared her top tips and techniques to bust stress and boost our lifestyles to live with greater happiness.
1. Breathe through the Physical Symptoms
Since most symptoms are psychosomatic, a stressful situation often leads to a discomfort on the physical body. While head and shoulders are the most commonly reported aches, other areas like neck, back and knees could also be tender. Once a tingling sensation or heaviness is detected at a particular area, direct all focus and attention there, and take few deep breaths. Keep your concentration on the irregular region and continue to take prolonged inhales and even longer exhales; the sensation should get lighter and the intensity of pain should subside.
2. Transform Your Physiology
Since your physiology affects, and gets affected by, thoughts and feelings, relief from stress could be found by changing your physiology. Just like how it is difficult to feel sad while sincerely smiling or laughing, or maintaining an upright posture, you could feel even better by doing jumping jacks. Wherever you are, escape to a washroom cubicle, raise your hands in the sky, and do at least 10 jumps. The change in your mental – and of course, physical – state would come naturally, and instantly.
3. Be Present
Although unpleasant situations – and their likely consequences – may seem unavoidable, a lot of unnecessary stress is created and amplified by focusing on either the past or future. This could include worrying about an upcoming exam, or regretting over the mistakes made in a past relationship. Books and videos have been dedicated to the importance of staying in the present, and the message has been best captured in Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling book “The Power of Now.” To be present, cup your eyes with your hands, take a few deep breaths, while mentally repeating the sentence “I am happily present in the here and now,” at least 21 times.
4. Organise Your Thoughts and Tasks.
Some people feel stressed simply by having an overwhelming pile of work. It is thus best to make a list of all the pending matters that need to be addressed. Mentally decipher a solution for a each matter, so there is clarity on how each issue can be resolved. Then prioritise your tasks by the amount of work required and the respective completion date. The clarity that comes with this organisation may not tick off any of the tasks, but it could help relieve the stressful feeling of being inundated with work.
5. Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Regardless of what others may say or do to help, if you think about what is not good, you are unlikely to escape your feelings of stress. To feel more positive, start by thinking about all the good that is happening around. Ask yourself questions that can only lead to a positive answer, such as: What can I be grateful for? What is working for me? How can it get any better than this? By answering these, your focus and internal language will naturally become more positive, which can even help guide you to find a way to resolve your situation.
The importance of keeping your physical body stimulated and fit has been endorsed by innumerable experts and industries. They all can’t be wrong. Whether it is a team sports like football, basketball or cricket, or an individual activity such as cycling, yoga, or hiking – you must strive to regulate stimulate their muscles and joints. Furthermore, the release of endorphins help to regulate stress levels on a regular basis.
There are various forms of meditation – some more religious, and others more spiritual. Follow whichever practice that resonates with you, as the mere practice of sitting in silence, sans any stimuli from the outside the world, can bring in benefits aplenty. Through meditation, many people have learnt to consciously respond rather than impulsively or emotionally react to situations. This has also led to better decision making, as well as improved concentration levels.
Before going to bed each night, replay the day’s events in your mind and handwrite a list of all the good things that you are thankful for. In case there was an unpleasant experience, observe what you have learnt from the incident, and how you will approach a similar situation differently in future. Lastly, think through the activities that you have to do the next day, and ensure that you are clear about what needs to be done when, and what you will have completed and achieved by the end of the day.
4. Remind Yourself of Your Achievements and Strengths
Some people often fill their internal dialogue with negative statements like “I’m ugly” and “I’m not good enough.” Unsurprisingly, their general state of being and emotions are not very strong or uplifting. By this same principle and logic, it is important to tell yourself statements that reaffirm your strengths, credibility, and worth. A good statement can be “I can easily and competently handle whatever comes my way.” As you repeat these statements – often known as affirmations – you will gradually start to believe it more genuinely, and this could even shift your perspective to situations and circumstances. For best results, repeat the same affirmation for at least 21 consecutive days.
5. Imagine and Visualise
Every morning, remember a good memory where you were happy and stress free. This could be when you were walking with a loved one on a beach, sharing laughs with friends, or even when you were alone. Imagine yourself in the moment of that memory, and reconnect with that pleasurable feeling and emotion. Starting your day with such positive feelings is likely to help you stay in upbeat mood going forward.