By Assunta Ng
Years ago, I experienced severe chest pain as if I was having a heart attack.
“No, you didn’t have a heart attack,” my doctor said. “You just have stress.”
With print industries struggling to stay afloat, it can be stressful for me running two weekly publications.
Instead, these days I am at peace with the inevitable trend, and have developed an appetite to accept really disastrous consequences. But the bad news has not destroyed my passion and commitment for the job. After more than three decades, I am still capable of creating fun experiences out of my daily challenges. If there’s not much you can do to change things, you might as well enjoy the journey. (But also remember, sometimes we can change things!)
It might be hard for those living in a high-tech world to have a stress-free life, but there are things you can do to mitigate your situation. Yes, you can perform a balancing act. The more you work at it, the better you become. Some of the tips are simple things, but so many simply don’t do it. Even I need to remind myself everyday to perform to make myself feel good.
Did you know that when you are stressed, you tend to hold your breath, and you forget to eat, drink, nap, smile, and laugh? When was the last time you felt really wonderful or joyful? Did you know that not drinking enough fluids not only causes dehydration, but bladder infection and increases your stress level?
1. Drink lots of fluid
“I don’t have time to go to the bathroom,” she insisted after learning she has a urinary-related infection. Her excuse is, her busy job is too busy. She doesn’t go to the rest room much because she forgets to drink liquid during work.
Drinking water or other kinds of fluid like juice, tea or soups, helps to cleanse your body, ease your digestion. Urinating helps rid the body of toxins.
“How do I remember to drink water when I should?” she asked.
You can clock in to remind yourself or put a glass of water in every visible place in your office and home. The act of drinking actually reminds me to take a break from my work and computer.
2. Breathe deeply
“I hate office meetings, those politics make my body tense,” my friend said. The no. 1 therapy to resist stress is to keep breathing, long and deep. It will instantly relax your body. Oxygen is good for your body and brain.
Remember to breath long and deep five times in the morning before you start your day—you will feel the difference in your attitude when dealing with the rest of your day.
Some mornings, I have a headache. I don’t run to my cabinet to get a pill. All I did was breathe and massage my forehead and the pain gradually disappeared.
Modern gurus advise people who have a demanding life to meditate for 10 to 30 minutes a day. The goal is for your mind to attain calmness, focus, and clarity.
Yoga and Tai Chi classes will teach you how to meditate and breathe. Studies have found that when you meditate and stretch in a yoga class, it will free your body from tension and tightness. Tai chi can achieve the same goal.
4. Ignore the dollar sign
Nine out of 10 projects I am involved with, don’t result in financial gain. But the projects are interesting and important—offering me many moments of happiness and learning-—and surprisingly sometimes, a small amount of money to support the papers.
The Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s diversity scholarship program held last Friday at the New Hong Kong Restaurant, made me thrilled and proud when I witnessed all the young people who were nominated because they thrive and serve their community.
In fact, the amount we raised was not enough to cover the expenses. The amount of work to review 46 diversity applications, were time-consuming and labor-intensive. Despite our argument over the choice of winners, we felt the students have transformed us to appreciate the purpose of our judging. When our editor, one of the judges, said she wanted to give scholarships to every student, you could imagine how much we have been inspired.
5. Do nothing day
Author Gretchen Rubin, wrote in her new book “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives,” wrote that we should schedule in our days what’s important to us, such as a museum visit.
My philosophy is to have an “unscheduled” day so I am free to do whatever I want. Both approaches actually share the same aim that we should have time to do what we enjoy doing and not think about work.
A do-nothing day would be lovely to us workaholics. No text or emails so we can free our mind and body.
6. Laughing and crying
Is it better to laugh or cry? Many say the former. However, I have discovered crying is beneficial for releasing all the bad hidden emotions. One time, I cried so sorrowfully after my friend died. With the outpouring of all kinds of emotions, I found that I actually felt much better physically and mentally afterwards. The mourning ritual helped me to let go finally and gave myself closure.
Yes, I watch a lot of comedies and every day I make sure I have something to laugh about, at myself, or other people.
7. Acupuncture and massages
Those are effective means to make you feel relaxed. Some insurance companies cover these services. Make good use of them if you are covered.
8. Find enjoyable activities
Singing, dancing, listening to your favorite music, playing with your dog, walking in the woods and gardening, do provide important relaxation. Schedule those events for yourself at least during the day and week.
9. A good night’s sleep
I have recommended before in my blog that a good night’s sleep can enable you to face the day with energy and optimism. Yes, I emphasize this again. If you have insomnia, seek medical help. Don’t use sleeping pills. It might do more harm than good.
It’s not everyday we get up and feel enchanted. You just have to know how to overcome your own demons such as negativity, alcoholism, scapegoating, depression, and anxieties. Develop a strategy for each of them. When it comes, you are ready. Yes, you can fight it. (end)