Munna Bhai MBBS‘s famous phrase “Carrom ramwanu, juice pivanu, mazza ni life” isn’t just a dialogue, but a great and fun way to deal with tension that’s much-needed today. If you find yourself oversaturated with thoughts, riddled with anger or fuming with frustration, you might be dealing with stress. You’re not alone because the ongoing pandemic has stressed out most of us. The need to survive, working from home, dealing with limited resources coupled with grief and loss has doubled the stress levels.

Stress In A Nutshell

Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Stress is your body’s response to pressure. Many different situations or life events can cause stress. It is often triggered when you experience something new, unexpected or that threatens your sense of self, or when you feel you have little control over a situation.

Signs Of Stress

1. How You Might Feel

  • Anxious
  • Afraid
  • Angry Or Aggressive
  • Sad
  • Irritable
  • Frustrated
  • Depressed

These feelings can sometimes produce physical symptoms, making you feel even worse.

2. How You Might Behave

  • Withdraw from other people or snap at them
  • Be indecisive or inflexible
  • Be tearful
  • Have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Experience sexual problems
  • Smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual

3. How Your Body Might React

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilating
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Aches and pains

If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.

Types Of Stress

Among the many different types of stress, acute and chronic stress are the most common.

1. Acute Stress

This is the body’s immediate reaction to a new and challenging situation. Once the situation is over, your body systems should return to normal. Considered one of the least damaging types of stress, this one goes away as easily as it arrives.

2. Chronic Stress

High-stress levels for an extended period of time lead to chronic stress. It can have a negative impact on your health and produce anxiety, depression, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, headaches and sleep disorders. 

3. Emotional Stress

Stress caused by relationships and is based on emotional responses can hit you harder than all other types. The emotional signs of stress are irritability or moodiness, anxiety, depression, feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated, and loneliness and isolation.

4. Burnout

Burnout is emotional exhaustion due to prolonged stress. This often leads to feelings that things are not going to work out well. This is pretty common among working individuals during the pandemic.

Want to know more about burnout at work? Click here for expert advice and tips.

Are you suffering from burnout at work? Take this mental health quiz here and find out.

Dealing With Stress

There are several ways to eliminate stress from your life. What works for you may not work for the other person. The key is to try a bunch of different methods, choose what benefits you the most and consistently practise it on a regular basis.

Yoga

Yoga for relaxation involves a systematic combination of yoga poses with yoga breathing exercises that help the body slow down and rejuvenate after a long tiring day. Here are 5 simple yoga asanas by yoga guru Paramita Singh to try for mind, body and soul relaxation.

Curious how yoga helps with stress? Click here to know all about it from the yoga guru herself.

1. Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Video Courtesy: Paramita Singh

Staying in this pose gives your body a gentle stretch while stabilizing your breathing and calming your mind. This yoga for mind relaxation pose is best practiced on an empty stomach.

How To Perform:

  1. Kneel down on your mat keeping your legs together.
  2. Bend forward so that your chest touches your thighs.
  3. Place your hands in the front or by the sides.
  4. Hold this yoga for mind relaxation pose for 1-3 minutes to experience stress and anxiety relief.

2. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)

As the name suggests, the happy baby pose is one of the best ways of using yoga for stress relief as it makes you feel happy and stress-free. 

How To Perform:

  1. Lie down flat on the back.
  2. Bend your knees towards your stomach.
  3. Extend your arms and hold your toes with your fingers.
  4. Hold the asana for at least one minute.

3. Viparita Karani (Leg Up The Wall Pose)

This inverted asana improves blood circulation in the body and makes one feel relaxed and refreshed. 

How To Perform:

  1. Lie down on your back with your hands on the sides of the body.
  2. Slowly raise your legs at an angle and move towards the wall.
  3. As you inhale, raise your legs at a 90-degree angle. Use the wall for support as you do so.
  4. Lift up your buttocks with the help of your hands.
  5. Maintain the position with your buttocks and legs touching the wall at all times.
  6. Start by holding the pose for 30-60 seconds in the beginning and gradually move on to 3-4 minutes.

4. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

The act of laying immobile like a dead body along with controlled yoga breathing exercises helps to clear the mind, become aware of all the body parts and improve blood circulation and concentration.

How To Perform:

  1. Lie down flat on your back.
  2. Place your hands by the side of your body.
  3. Keep your feet as wide as the mat.
  4. Ensure that the head, neck and spine are in one straight line.
  5. Close your eyes and surrender to the mat.
  6. Inhale and exhale slowly, while shifting awareness amongst all the parts of your body.
  7. Stay in the pose anywhere between 5-7 minutes.

5. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Video Courtesy: Paramita Singh

A few minutes of this pose at the end of the day can instantly relax your nerves and help you feel refreshed and energized.

How To Perform:

  1. Kneel down on your mat with your hands on your waist.
  2. Keep your knees a few feet apart.
  3. Slowly bend backwards and place your palms on your ankles.
  4. Look up and hold the pose for 2-3 minutes.
  5. If you are unable to touch your palms to your ankles, you can start by placing your hands on your waist and bending backwards. With a little practice each day, you should be able to perform this yoga for stress relief poses effectively.

Want to know how real women deal with stress and what secrets they hold to a peaceful mind? Read here the stress-busters that help women get through the day!

Breathing Exercises

Pranayama is control and awareness of breath. ‘Prana’ means breath, energy, life or strength and ‘Ayama’ means to control or restrain. Pranayama signifies an extension of breath and its control. It is typically defined as a set of breathing practices designed to control prana (energy) within the human body. By controlling the pranic energy one can achieve a healthy body and mind”, says yoga guru Paramita Singh. Here are 5 breathing exercises that help in pacifying the nervous system.

Did you know that the right breathing practices strengthen the respiratory system? Click here and know more about pranayama and its benefits!

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing helps you relax and lower the stress hormone cortisol, lowers your blood pressure and increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body.

How To Perform:

  1. Lie on your back on a flat surface with knees bent.
  2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should remain still, while the one on your belly should rise.
  4. Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position.

2. Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath or Ocean Breath)

This pranayama ventilates the lungs and gives you strength, improves your concentration, releases tension throughout the body and regulates heating and cooling of the body, warming the core from the inside.

How To Perform:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Keep back straight and eyes closed.
  3. Close the mouth and lower your head. Rest the chin in the notch between the collar bone. This is called Jalandhara Bandha.
  4. Stretch your arms and rest the back of your wrist on your knees. Join the tip of the index finger and thumb and the rest of the fingers stretched. This is called Jnana Mudra.
  5. Exhale completely and now slowly take a deep breath.
  6. Allow the air to pass through the constricted throat, creating a friction sound, maintaining Jalandhara Bandha.
  7. Fill your lungs up with air, this is called puraka.
  8. Retain the inhaled air for a few seconds (preferably double the period of inspiration).
  9. Now exhale as naturally as possible – gradually, avoiding jerky or hasty movements. Exhale fully, this is called rechaka.
  10. Hold this emptiness for a few seconds before you breathe fresh air again.
  11. Repeat this whole sequence for a couple of minutes.

3. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate-Nostril Breathing)

This exercise reduces stress and anxiety, calms and rejuvenates the nervous system and helps balance hormones.

How To Perform:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Keep back straight and eyes closed.
  3. Exhale completely.
  4. Block the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril.
  5. Now block your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand, release your right nostril and exhale.
  6. Keep your left nostril blocked and inhale via the right one.
  7. Now release the left nostril and exhale.
  8. This completes 1 full cycle.
  9. Repeat 10-12 cycles.

4. Kumbhaka Pranayama (Breath Retention)

It clears your thoughts, develops concentration and activates vital energy that promotes mental and physical vitality.

How To Perform:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Keep back straight and eyes closed.
  3. Take a deep inhalation until a sense of fullness is experienced in the chest.
  4. Hold the inhaled air for a period of 8-10 seconds.
  5. Now exhale as naturally as possible – gradually and slowly.
  6. Take a few normal breaths and relax.
  7. Repeat for a few cycles.

5. Kapalabhati Pranayama (Breath of Fire or Skull-Shining Breath)

This exercise increases your body’s oxygen supply, which stimulates and energises the brain while preparing it for meditation and work that requires high focus.

How To Perform:

  1. To begin, sit in a comfortable position – sukhasan, siddhasan, vajrasan or padmasan.
  2. Keep back straight and eyes closed.
  3. Rest your hands on your knees, palms facing upward.
  4. Inhale through both nostrils deeply.
  5. Contract your low belly, forcing out the breath in a short burst.
  6. As you quickly release the contraction, your inhalation should be automatic and passive — your focus should be on exhaling.
  7. Aiming for 100- 120 exhalation/inhalation cycles per minute. Do not force yourself. Always go at your own pace and stop if you feel faint or dizzy.
  8. Try to at least do it for 2 mins.

Diet & Nutrition

Nutritionist Rasika Parab says, “A neurotransmitter called ‘Serotonin’ is produced in our digestive system. Our digestive system is lined up with millions of nerve cells that guide our emotions. The synthesis of serotonin is affected by our gut bacteria, the bacteria that keep our gut healthy. It keeps us away from infections and toxins. Good gut microbe improves the digestion as well as the absorption of the food that we eat and also activates the neural pathway between the gut and the brain. Hence serotonin plays an important role in regulating our sleep, moods and appetite. Including pre and probiotics-rich food helps to maintain good gut health. Healthy gut lining enhances the absorption of nutrients which is nothing but the fuel to our brain for its function.”

Want to know more about how food and mental health are connected? Here’s a guide to a mental health-friendly diet.

Here are 5 desi recipes to try when you need to improve your mental health.

1. Mango Smoothie 

This smoothie is rich in protein, vitamin A, C, and probiotics. The addition of Chia seeds makes it enriched with Omega-3 Fatty Acids. It’s a guilt-free dessert one can enjoy.

Ingredients: 

  • Mango pulp
  • Hung curd (dahi)
  • Chia seeds
  • Mint leaf (pudina)

Method:

  1. Mix mango pulp with hung curd and add chia seeds. 
  2. You may garnish this with a mint leaf. 

2. Masala Chaas

Buttermilk is a coolant enriched with proteins and probiotics.

Ingredients:

  • Curd (dahi)
  • Ginger
  • Carom Seeds(ajwain)
  • Mint leaves (pudina)
  • Rock salt (sendha namak)
  • Water 

Method: 

  1. Blend curds and water. 
  2. Add ginger, ajwain and chopped mint leaves. 
  3. Add a pinch of rock salt for taste.

3. Fermented Rice Water 

Traditional fermented food products such as fermented rice are known to possess probiotic potential. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide a myriad of health benefits.

Ingredients: 

  • Rice 
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Cumin seeds (jeera)
  • Asafoetida (hing)

Method:

  1. Boil rice with water for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Allow it to cool and keep it aside for 2 days for natural fermentation. 
  3. Strain the water, season it with salt, jeera, and hing
  4. Relish it cold.

4. Kahwa Tea

It is an antioxidant-rich beverage packed with Omega-3 fatty acids.

Ingredients: 

  • Kahwa tea leaves
  • Water
  • Cardamom (elaichi)
  • Cloves (laung)
  • Cinnamon (dalchini)
  • Saffron (kesar)
  • Dry fruits (almonds, pistachio, walnuts)

Method: 

  1. Brew Kahwa tea leaves with water and flavour it with cardamom. 
  2. Infuse cloves, cinnamon and saffron too. 
  3. Serve this tea with chopped dry fruits like almonds, walnuts, and pistachio. Serve hot.

5. Soya-Sprout Tikka

Sprouts tend to contain higher amounts of insoluble fibre, which can ease digestion and reduce the likelihood of constipation.

Ingredients: 

  • Soya flour
  • Sweet potato
  • Soaked rice flakes 
  • Sprouts
  • Ginger-garlic paste
  • Turmeric (haldi)
  • Chilli
  • Amchur powder 
  • Salt

Method: 

  1. Mix soya flour, sweet potato, soaked rice flakes and sprouts in a bowl. 
  2. Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, chopped green chillies, amchur powder and salt to taste. 
  3. Roll them into tikka and shallow fry it. 
  4. You may enjoy this with mint-coriander chutney.

10 Ways To Relieve & Manage Stress In The Comfort Of Your Home

When stress becomes overwhelming, or it’s chronic, it can take a toll on your well-being. That’s why it’s important to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and your body. Try something that works the best for you and stay stress-free, whether it’s professional or personal.

Stress-busting activities can be fun! Click here and try a few to relieve your stress.

1. Go On A Cleaning Binge

Any repetitive activity, such as washing and cleaning, would probably have a great effect if practised with a dose of mindfulness. Getting chores done in itself probably relieves some stress. Giving the inside of your fridge a good wipe-down or really getting into the sofa cushions with a vacuum attachment has multiple stress-reducing benefits. 

2. Get A Massage

When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress – the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. Studies support the claim that adults who got regular massages showed lowered stress chemicals, an increased immune response, and higher levels of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone.

3. Do A Quick Exercise

Quick bursts of movement are great if your stress is making you feel jittery or like your heart is beating faster than normal. Whether it’s a set of 20 jumping jacks, 10 pushups or sit-ups, or running in place for 30 seconds, a burst of activity gets your heart rate up. This will activate several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine that enhance your mood and help cushion some of that anxiety and stress. Watch this video and learn 4 ways to create your own happiness!

4. Dance Like No One Is Watching

Whether you are practising for your college fest or rehearsing for the next sangeet party you are attending, dancing brings a smile to your face. Putting on your favourite playlist and letting loose is, of course, good exercise, which is a long-studied stress-reliever. It also engages the mind and brings on feelings of inspiration. Dancing to music from a happy time and place in your life can trigger positive memories, as well, taking your mind off your stress.

5. Time To Stress Cook

Because cooking engages our senses, it has the ability to activate memories. The need to prep, choose a recipe, collect the ingredients and go step-by-step to make the food can ease anxiety caused by stress. So let your creativity flow, choose a recipe that excites you and cook something delicious that soothes your mind, body and soul. 

6. Have Sex

Studies have found that sex was a stress reliever for couples in a satisfying relationship. Engaging in sexual activities has a buffering effect of intimacy on stress and leads to a better mood all around. As for solo sex, masturbation is a sensory experience that helps you focus and releases bodily tension; doing it to orgasm releases dopamine and endorphins, both of which can lift you out of stress.

7. Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. PMR helps reduce anxiety and calm breathing. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths. Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes.

8. Engage In Artwork

Doesn’t matter if you choose an adult colouring book, doodling on a paper, drawing with pencils or creating on a canvas. Artwork, of all types, helps relieve stress. If you aren’t into drawing or painting, consider colouring in a colouring book. Adult colouring books have risen in popularity and for good reason – colouring can be a great stress reliever.

9. Engage Your Senses

During times of stress, relief may literally be at the tip of your nose. Intentionally engaging our five senses; hearing, touch, smell, taste, and sight are incredibly powerful tools in providing instant relief in a hectic world. Aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief, it can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment.

Buy the best soy candles from TC46’s e-commerce store, Red Dot Shop here!

10. Try Touch Therapy

Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial. Hugging and cuddling can slow the release of the stress chemical cortisol and increase your flow of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that counter depression and stress, according to various studies. Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation.

Stress can be harmful in the long run, affecting not just your social life but also your health and immunity. The key part is figuring out where you are dealing with stress or just exhaustion, which type of stress it is and then finding the right way to eliminate it.

Srushti Pathak
Srushti Pathak

A blogger, aspiring author and old soul at heart, Srushti Pathak believes in writing stories that touch the heart. She maintains that curiosity defines her zeal for writing and creativity in all spheres of life motivates her.

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