Stress, the pundits say, is an inevitable part of modern day life. Yes and No. Yes – if we allow the modern day to invade our life. No, if we can command the morning and ride the modern day – and it’s not even what is classified as a ‘motherhood statement’. Stress becomes a No, to the extent we dictate to the schedule set before us and not the other way around.
I looked forward to a serene and happy retirement. The opposite happened. The pandemic hit and as the primary caregiver of a critically ill loved one, things did not go to plan. I was looking forward to short trips around the world and joyous times with friends and family. Stress came in tipper-truck loads and I wasn’t quite ready to handle it. A learning curve occurred. May not be yet qualified to give a full lecture on it, but here’s what I learnt, in the process.
Off the alarm goes and alarm bells go in our heads, when the day comes to our mind. Alarm tells us, we need to get off the bed, fix breakfast and lunch, pack the food, wake up the kids, get dressed, get them dressed, hurry out the door and weave through a snarling line of traffic, avoid the tuk-tuks and drop our kids and get to work. It’s a long sentence. Do read it again. Pandemic created, just the opposite. Lockdown locked us in with our kids, parents and sometimes in-laws. Get up and with nowhere to go, created enough stress, like the urge to hurry out the door, in the normalcy, long gone by.
Why not wake up earlier than the alarm and spend a few minutes in solitude. Whether you pray, meditate or take a walk in the silence of your garden or balcony, is up to you. Just a bit of ME time, can give such a sense of being together with your inner core, to face the day.
I was a compulsive worrier of the highest order. I would worry about so many things that actually never happened. Our minds process a thousands of thoughts a day. More grey the thoughts are, I can assure you, your worry meter will keep rising. Contrary to the popular theory that we are the masters of our circumstances, much of life is beyond our control. Take for instance, the traffic in Colombo and the suburbs. Can our worry from Malabe to Colombo, control it? Unabated grey thoughts cruising through our minds create and nurture the atmosphere well suited for a stressed out life style. Can you give up worry? Try and try consciously. You will succeed.
Fear is good, if it moves you away from an impending danger. When it is unrealistic, and dwells on our minds without a cause, then it is time for action – on our part. Unrestrained fear of the unknown aggravates stress and some, unfortunately, take their own life. Best antidote is to talk your fears with a person who understands you and is mature enough to guide you through the murky waters that present fear.
Sri Lankans are excellent noise makers. Whether it is a TV, radio or in a bus, noise has become the ‘go to’ thing they do, unconsciously, just for the sake of noise. Lack of control in construction projects in neighbourhoods create noise well into the night and over weekends, about which the residents can do nothing. Do what you can to control it in your close environs. For those that are beyond my control, I generally use a noise blocker!
The smart phone, the iPad, the iPod and the what-not of today’s life that keeps bleeping incessantly, did you know, are great stress creators? When the phone bleeps, the owner has no peace of mind until he or she checks out the latest deal or an Instagram or a snapchat or WhatsApp or Viber or Messenger or whatever the iNess that has bleeped. Imagine a person riveting his or her attention from time to time, on a smart phone! Remedy? Shut them down. Have a ‘bleep-free-time zone’ and keep to it.
The yes-man or the yes-woman is a stressed-man or a stressed-woman. Human body is created for work, rest and play. It cannot work 18 hrs into 7 day schedule. Over work can create not only stress, but also panic in us. I experienced this sometime back and I just wanted someone to ‘ stop the world and let me out’. Remedy? Choose your battles and your work load. Then say and emphatic ‘no’, to the rest of the world. Yes, you might be misunderstood – but that’s okay. After all, you are responsible for your life. Remember, work need not be what we do at office. It can be house work or working for a good cause. Or, zoom teaching or zoom learning.
TOO MUCH TIME
Now in semi-retirement, I have uncovered another factor that can create stress. That is, too much time hanging on my hands, which I need to fill with activity. It is good to be busy (not over worked) rather than be a ‘loose cannon’ with nothing to do for the day. By itself, it can be a stress creator. So I’ve found some meaningful things to do. It fills my time. Retirement is not a bed of roses, unless the time is spent constructively.
Do take cognizance of what adds to your stress levels. Only you can control it.
text Chandi Perera
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