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A Diamond Is Just A Piece Of Charcoal That Handled Stressexceptionally Well

By Ravichandran Vaidyanathan

Like an aunty who just saw the neighbour’s daughter with a boy, I have something exciting to talk to you about today. I have enjoyed some time-tested strategies to beat stress that I want to share with you.

Put the ball in the other man’s court.

I earlier used to get stressed out choosing from a menu card when we go out for dinner.

I have now hit upon a simple solution for this – Ask the waiter for his suggestion and trust his recommendation. If it goes wrong, there is always a next time!

But this strategy back-fired when I took my wife to a saree shop during our last vacation. I blurted out to the shop assistant: what would you recommend? He launched with a flourish: this is the last piece in the bestseller range, this is the season’s top hit, this is from a limited edition…and before I could bat an eyelid, my wife quickly capitalized on my blunder and lapped them all up!

So, to control stress in life, we need to know when to put the ball in the other man’s court, as in a game of tennis, and when to keep possession of the ball with us, as in a game of football.

Enjoy periods of inactivity

Much of our anxiety and inner struggle stems from our busy, overactive minds always needing something to entertain them, something to focus on, and always wondering "What's next?"

While we're eating dinner, we wonder what's for dessert. While eating dessert, we ponder what we should do afterward. After that evening, it's "What should we do this weekend?" After we've been out, we walk into the house and immediately turn on the television, pick up the phone, open a book, or start cleaning. It's almost as though we're frightened at the thought of not having something to do, even for a minute.

The beauty of doing nothing is that it teaches you to clear your mind and relax. When you allow your mind to take a break, it comes back stronger, sharper, more focused and creative. When you allow yourself to be bored, it takes an enormous amount of pressure off you to be performing and doing something every second of every day.

When I took up my first overseas job about 20 years back, my family followed me a few months later. I used to call them long-distance every day.

To my daily opening question “so what are you doing”?, I used to get the same response from both my wife of thirty and my daughter of three.

But the tones used to tell different stories: my daughter’s would be a factual, even excited “nothing” while my wife’s would be a bored ‘nothing”!

So, we do enjoy doing nothing during childhood but as we grow up, we start thinking doing nothing is a sin and get stressed out!

Make Peace with Imperfection

A disorganized wardrobe, a scratch on the car, a few pounds we would like to lose, a tube of toothpaste squeezed from the middle – that one is dedicated to my wife - just don’t fret over these "imperfections"

Let’s learn to enjoy and appreciate the way things already are rather than searching for better ways.

It does not, however, mean we stop doing our best; it only means let’s not be overly focused on what's wrong with life.

We should have the courage to change what we cannot accept …and more importantly, the serenity to accept what we cannot change.

Lower Your Tolerance to Stress

In the corporate world, I have often heard the proud words "I have a very high tolerance to stress".

Usually, it takes a crisis of some kind to wake these people up- a broken family, a health setback, a serious addiction - something that jolts them to slow down.

Don’t wait for that jolt. Catch yourself before stress gets out of control. Stress is like the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill. When it's small, it's manageable and easy to control. Once it gathers momentum, it's difficult to stop.

The key is to recognize and respect the tipping point. Remember, if someone throws the ball at you… you don’t have to always catch it!

By Ravichandran Vaidyanathan

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