We constantly live in a noisy world today. Living in a world with constant chatter and unceasing noise, we are leading a stressful life. Most of us are fnding places and time for silence, quiet and peace. Chronic stress has become an integral part of our lives.
According to Webster dictionary relaxing means the state of being free from tension and anxiety. But given the present work environment the two words – “relaxed” and “workplace” – cannot exist in the same sentence. It’s either relaxation or work, the two cannot co-exist. Challenging obligations, tight deadlines, long working hours and trying to prove our worth take a toll on our physical and mental health. Studies have shown that stress affects both the cardiovascular and immune systems. Cardiologists say that constantly being busy engages the sympathetic nervous system, which makes the body run in high gear resulting in rising blood pressure, thereby increasing the risk for heart attack, and stroke.
According to psychotherapy experts, frenetic pace of life and demands of making a living, exhaust both energy and morale. Ability to enjoy one’s time gradually reduces, and a pleasurable work day seems a far cry. Dr. Girish Patel, renowned Mumbai-based psychotherapist, opines, “Stress is nothing but a socially acceptable form of mental illness. For fast-acting relief, try slowing down by taking regular breaks. After all, ‘a feld that has rested yields a bountiful crop’ goes the saying”. He suggests, “One should not be shy about taking breaks at work, especially if there is no boss around”. It sounds interesting but it isn’t easy.
There’s no denying the fact that stress is a killer that kills slowly. Chronic stress can kill brain cells” says Dr. Patel, “and may even prevent creating new ones affecting performance”. This could result in loss of appetite, hopelessness and severe sadness. Moreover, stress also creates mood problems in people who are suffering from depression or bipolar disorder”.
Being under stress for a long time develops muscular stiffness. Chronic tension or anxiety causes sore muscles in the body, especially in the neck and shoulders, which may result in diseases like spondilytis or joint pains.
So shouldn’t we take it easy or be just plain lazy instead of being a workaholicby force or by choice? Interestingly, the book titled “The Joy of Laziness,” written by a former German professor of medicine, Peter Axt, and his physician daughter, Michaela Axt-Gadermann, mentions the benefts of being idle (read laziness). “Laziness cures brain cells and extends life span. Human beings need to relax when they feel like it – it is a very good remedy for the body and especially for the brain.” Mindless activities are rewarding. After all, Harry Potter was born into J.K. Rowling’s mind as she did nothing but was gazing out a train window and Newton discovered the law of gravity while sitting in an orchard when the apple fell on his head and Einstein’s theory of relativity was born of his wondering how it feels like riding on a sunbeam.
It’s not that these breakthroughs sprang out of nowhere. All these people spent years reading and researching and experimenting in their felds before the “aha” moment fnally hit” writes Tom Hodgkinson, in his bestseller “How to be Idle”. The book is an antidote to the work-obsessed culture which he thinks puts so many obstacles between us and our dreams. Echoing the same philosophy of idleness is Dr. Keith Sawyer, PhD, professor of psychology at Washington University who writes in his book Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation, “The idle mind literally pulls together seemingly unrelated fragments of information stored in disparate regions of the brain and combines them in a way the focused mind can’t. Undirected, stressfree moments allow the mind to make connections it can’t make when focused on a single task”.
Hard work is the route to salvation therefore, each and every minute of life should be spent productively was the belief our ancestors had. Ancient scriptures demonized indolence and made every attempt to prevent man from being a victim of idleness. Adages like “idle hands or empty minds are the devil’s workshop” were born of this notion only. But in support of relaxation one cannot but quote Paulo Coelho in his book ‘The Pilgrimage’ “It’s a good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.”
In fact, deciding to relax at work itself is a great idea. Let’s suggest how best and fast you can do it:
Relax Tight Muscles
Inner peace begins with a relaxed body. Proper stretching is a great way to destress and feel good, that too, within minutes. Even if you are not into yoga, ‘the cobra pose’ is the best to relieve a stiff back. But learn to do it from a trained yoga instructor. She also suggests ‘belly breathing’ or deep breaths that reduce stress by lowering your blood pressure and increases antioxidant activity. Tightness dissipates from your muscles when you focus on exhaling.
Engage Your Senses
Popping a piece of your favourite candy or a chocolate once a day can take off pressure from your mind, albeit, temporarily. Just fipping the pages of the family photos either by yourself or with a colleague can be very relaxing. You may try relaxing just by massaging a bit of scented hand lotion and it works wonderfully well. Or better still keep a small vial of aromatherapy lavender oil in your desk as it quickly stimulates your senses and lightens mood. Then listen to your favourite music. Idea is to engage all your fve senses and get rid of tension or worry.
If you have two breaks during the day, try leaving your cubicle/offce, at least in one. It’s better if you do it during the lunch break which normally is longer. Go out for window-shopping or call a friend or just sit on the bench in the nearby park and simply watch the world go by. A change of the scenery clears your head and restores your energy.
Power of imagination reduces anxiety and induces feelings of peace and calm. Albert Einstein realized it and said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’. After all, all that is created is imagined frst, and then it becomes a reality. Just imagine involving all your senses what you like doing or be where you want to be – forest, garden, sea beach or home and feel the sense of well-being prevailing all over.
Again, try believing in the wisdom of Eistein who says, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit, a very convincing one”. In other words, your perception is your reality. You change your attitude and the reality changes for you. Stressful work environment or a particular painful situation, if viewed differently, can teach you that you’re much stronger than you thought. Studies reveal that we can deprive stressful situations of their destructive power just by controlling our reactions to them. A ‘diffcult’ person (read boss) or a situation can be seen as ‘different’ or it can be viewed as an opportunity to grow or to prove your strength.