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How to stay calm and focused

Pressures of personal life, deadlines, even a tiff with a co-worker can leave you feeling stressed, frazzled, tense or angry. Here are a few simple ways to relax your body and mind...

health and fitness Updated: Apr 24, 2009 18:50 IST
Hindustan Times

The pressures of personal life, deadlines, unexpected situations or even a tiff with a co-worker — all these can leave you feeling stressed, frazzled, tense or angry. It’s tough to stay calm at such times, even though that may actually be what the situation requires. The result — wrong decisions, mistakes at work and an unproductive day. It’s important to stay learn the art of staying calm and collected; by staying calm, you are able to judge and respond to situations better. Here are some simple tips that can help you fight stress.

Take a deep breath: This is an instant and simplest way to calm the nerves. Sit back in a chair, close your eyes and take a deep breath slowly. Hold until a count of three, then slowly breathe out. Repeat this cycle 6-8 times. You’ll find yourself much calmer. Deep breathing works by bringing down the heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, and lowering the production of stress hormones.

Meditate: It has long been touted by yoga practitioners as the ideal way to beat stress. Research conducted at West Virginia University recently found that participants who undertook meditation saw a significant lowering of psychological distress over 3 months. Even half an hour of yoga every morning can better equip you to handle the pressures of the day.

Exercise: Tense because of a tight deadline or upcoming meeting? Or stressed out physically and mentally by long hours in front of the computer screen? Step outside the room and take a brisk walk, or walk up and down a flight of steps, etc. Exercise forces deep breathing and helps stress hormones to be metabolised faster.

Take a short nap: Your mind needs a break from unending e-mails, phone calls, smses and typing away at the keyboard. It’s necessary to ‘switch off’ for some time. Turn off your computer, switch off your Blackberry and take a quick 20 minute nap.

It’s a great way to refresh your mind and be better able to face work challenges with a calm mind.

Avoid caffeinated drinks: A cup of coffee or a bottle of cola are seen by many to be instant stress-busters. However, research indicates that caffeine not only exacerbates but even induces stress! This happens because caffeine makes the adrenal glands produce stress hormones; these remain in the blood stream for hours after you have had that cuppa. In short, caffeine actually lowers the body’s ability to stay calm and focussed. What’s more, caffeine-induced stress increases the tendency to have mood swings, increases muscle tension and blood pressure, accelerate the heart rate and even cause insomnia.

Listen to music: When under stress, one of the simplest ways to calm the mind is listening to soft music. Put on some soothing, instrumental music — even a chanting CD can help — lie back, close your eyes and spend 15-20 minutes listening to it. The result will be a calmer, more focussed mind.

First Published: Apr 24, 2009 17:26 IST