Unwinding ! – Can Stress really be avoided ?

UnwindOne of the most interesting things about reading is that  you get to know  perspectives of other people who are  great thinkers. Michael Olpin and Sam Bracken share their perspectives on stress  in their book “Unwinding!”.   This is the second book which I read this week and it was again an interesting choice.

This book  answers three questions:

  1. How stress effects people and organizations ?
  2. How to reduce stress by “unwinding” and changing seven life-choice paradigms
  3. How to prevent stress

According to me, there are two types of Stress. Internal Stress and External Stress. Internal stress are self imposed and it sprouts from the way we handle our life, our actions, our reactions to events and our beliefs. External Stress happens because of all that we are a part of directly and indirectly. The important question to ask then is can you avoid stress. Answer would be “No”. Is stress always harmful, answer would again be “No”

Michael and Sam have listed out 7 Shift Paradigms to  eliminate Stress :

  1. Reactive to ProactiveTaking control of your stress instead of reacting to it. Understand you can’t avoid stress, you can only minimize it.

    You want to lose weight. Be proactive and control what you eat instead of succumbing your desire and inducing in to wrong diet. Talk to your boss and tell him what you like and don’t like upfront, instead of reacting to the everyday pressure of doing same mundane job. Seek his suggestions, find a mentor and acquire the skills so that you can transition from a job you do only to sustain, than to be valued.
    Next time when you feel helpless about something, and clueless of where to begin with something in life, just focus on two things, things which are in your control, and things which you can do immediately to move just one inch forward.

  2. Unmotivated to inspire : If you remain unmotivated in what you do for a long time, your stress level increases. The antidote is to get inspired. Create a mission statement, list down your values.

    Instead of comparing and indulging our selves in competition, it’s important to learn and be inspired from the colleagues who are better than us. Stop competing, start learning. For someone whose ulterior motive is to learn are least bothered about winning or losing and they enjoys every small success and gets motivated from failures.

  3. Pressure to priorities:  Do  not multi-task. It increases stress.

    Human brain can focus on only one thing at a time, List down your priorities and give your full attention to them one by one.
    What I think :  If everything becomes extremely important to you at once, it means either you have not planned things well or you procrastinated it to an extent that you can’t do so anymore.

  4. Hassle to Harmony :  Stop treating life as a battle. Stop seeing life through the lens of win or loss, good or bad etc.

    Being honest about your capabilities, being fair about your transactions  and being wise about your fiancés is more important than winning any battle. If we have not figured out our purpose in life yet, we got to keep trying it, until we  find it. There will always be people who will be better than you, and people who will be worse than you. So instead of chasing perfection, seek gratification of giving your 100%.
  5. Anxiety to Empathy : To manage Anxiety be more Empathetic. Empathy requires mindfulness. It requires not to be sorry for others, but to genuinely feel what they feel.

    Anxiety is more  about assumptions. There are a lot of “What ifs ? “ that we focus on. We make our assumptions so strong that it ultimately become our  beliefs. just replace this by one simple  exercise. Consider what you would have done, had you been in other person’s situation. Now understand that other person is not the same as you, so his way of handling things would be different from yours. And we have to acknowledge and respect the differences.

  6. Defensive to Diverse  Challenge defensiveness by being open to diversity.

    Welcome different kinds of people, opinions and attitudes. Be open to travel, especially to places where you’ve never been.

  7. Tense to Tranquil:  No matter what you do, stress happens anyway.

    When I read the 7th point, I wonder why I read the above 6 points- because stress happen anyways. Make sense ?
    Anyways, The four tranquility  authors suggest to focus are, Mental, Physical, Spiritual and Emotional. You will see a lot of people monetizing these tranquilities, making their mainstream business and giving hope to people.

I would say don’t expect a formula of handling stress in life, because had there been any humans are smart enough to find them, adopt them and commercialize them. We all handle stress in our own way. Some to a larger extent and some to a lesser extent. And I wish, Film Censor board of India could start showing the statutory warning as

It’s not just smoking and drinking, stress is equally harmful to health. 



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