How To Fight Stress With Yoga And Other Stress-Relieving Techniques

More than half of modern people live under permanent stress. For a quite some time people manage to keep up appearances and artfully disguise internal pressure beneath indifference, a social smile, a cup of coffee and a cigarette or a glass of something stronger. However, it grows and eventually breaks through. A person comes to the office and initiates conflict with his coworkers, snaps at customers, acts out of line with his boss, or picks a fight in a bar. The kickback is even worse for the nearest and dearest. The household is plagued by continuous squabblings, lashing out at children, and the growing tension of grudge and reproaches. Outbursts of anger and aggression at the slightest provocation inevitably sour relations and disrupt social life of an individual.

The situation may appear in another way. A person builds grand plans of self-development, but as soon as he gets some spare time he spends it playing an online game, surfing through the news feed on Facebook, or appearing buzing with some other easy task. After numerous outbursts of anger and lots of time wasted, the twinges of conscience snowball. Articles and posts boasting perfect time-management in the seemingly perfect lives of other people add fuel to the fire. Every single day one promises himself a new life filled with peace and satisfaction, but breaks the promise. It’s as if you’re looking at a powder depot ready to catch fire.

Do you recognize this state? It no surprise that the condition regularly calls forth a question: “What’s wrong with me?”

“Don’t you like stress? Well, you simply don’t know how to cook it”

Stress is a mental and emotional tension. It is important to understand that there is nothing inherently bad about it. In fact, coping with stressors speeds up personality development and helps to discover extra energy reserves.  One builds confidence, knowledge, experience, and creativity when solving life puzzles and overcoming obstacles.

Consider the following fact: lack of sufficient stress is one of the main reasons why animal lifespan in comfortable captivity is less than in the wild. In their natural environment, all creatures great and small are bound to fight for survival in a limited space they can claim in terms of their physical and tactical abilities. For a human  being, stress is also a chance to look at life closely and improve it with proper adjustments.

The pitfalls of negative stress

“What’s the matter then?” you would ask. The thing is most people are not ready to face stress. Due to his upbringing, established lifestyle, lack of self-confidence and friendly support, a person appears unable to brace himself for overcoming the trials of life efficiently. Since he cannot see the way out of situations and finds no strength to make a painful choice, a man would go to any length to discard the task. As a rule, this can be managed with the help of any philosophy along the lines of “one can choose not to choose,” “it’s all in God’s hands,” “let the Universe decide,” etc.

It would be great, if a man was actually ready to go with the tide; but, alas! he has some very clear-cut expectations and desires. According to the field of origin, stress is defined as personal, workplace, social, environmental, financial, etc.

Internal tension and negative thinking grow, when the picture invented in one’s mind runs counter to real outcome of the situation left at the decree of providence. Failure to change, fear to take responsibility for decisions, and self-mortification for the failure to be fully present in the meaningful moments of life escalate into depression and burnout. The latter manifest as reduced immunity, chronic fatigue, health problems, and bursts of aggression.

Stress. You have to know this demon in person

Stress factors raise an alert state in chain order triggered by the adrenaline rush: high blood pressure, rapid pulse, increased heartbeat, and shallow breathing. One wants to take off running and do something. However, it’s unclear were to run and what to do.

At the second stage, human body braces itself to resist stress for the sake of personal safety. One takes a close look at the situation and, taking into account available internal resources and external opportunities, makes a decision: to adapt or to fight. Unfortunately, passage of this stage often remains only in theory. In practice, people tend to linger in the stressful situation for an indefinite term and wear themselves into a state of exhaustion.

If one cannot manage stress, the latter manages to drain all physical, mental, and emotional powers to the state, in which resistance becomes virtually impossible.

“Mission is possible”: Prevention and elimination of stress

Evidently, preventions of stress encompasses 3 important points:

To be a realist. Create realistic intentions and plans.

To be a pragmatic realist. Lack of pipe dreams not only saves time and effort, but also narrows the pool of possible decisions significantly.

To create personal space in your life and “islands of routine” (e.g., to go to bed and wake up at regular hours, follow a meal plan, keep the schedule of yoga practice, pay attention to your favorite pastime every day, etc).

What to do if stress is already all over you? – You can follow 10 steps of “emergency aid”:

  1. Tomorrow is another day. First of all, you have to go to go to bed, sleep well, and wake up without an alarm clock.
  2. Remove the stress factor. Once during the First Aid class at school, the teacher asked us about the primary intervention for burns. We discussed an example of someone holding a hot pot. We listed all possible options from “putting hands under cold water” to calling an ambulance. It turned out, the first thing to do was to put down the pot. Obvious as the solution is, many people find it possible to complain about life and go on living it with zero changes for quite some time.
  3. Don’t dramatize. Stop chewing over the past situation. Switch from emotional overreacting like “Oh God, why has it gone wrong this time? What could I have done differently?” towards critical analysis “What can I do now? Do I get to do this or not?”
  4. Temporarily take your attention out of the stressful context. Long-time focus on the complex process may blur your sight. When you distract for a walk, journey, favourite activity, or an evening in the circle of close friends, you not only relax but also give yourself an opportunity to take a fresh look at the problem later and come up with sudden insights for its solution.
  5. Turkish bath, sauna, and massage. Comment is needless.
  6. Get yourself good physical exercise. In this case, “to exhaustion” is just what you need. You can choose from an intensive yoga workshop, swimming, a long active walk, running a marathon, etc. These sports focus at training proper breathing and, thus, especially efficient in fighting stress. In turn, breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation are the key yoga weapons against stress.
  7. Ask for help of your optimistic friends and reliable professionals. Let yourself get an onlooker perspective at the situation and a professional point of view.
  8. Nature + solitude or a company of a person, who appreciates silence. Let yourself drop everything even for a short while and go into the pure energy of being.
  9. Find a safe way to let off steam. Cry into the pillow or in the nature, get a punchbag, break something (that you personally own), etc. Improvise.
  10. Act.

Stress is a chronic disorder. Its exacerbation is provoked by various external factors. It is important to understand that by blanketing tension and resorting to fast aid in emergency situations, you do not get the problem solved. A profound stress-relieving program calls for prevention of internal tensions due to discovering a realistic approach to life and maintaining balance in personal space.


Photos by Kirill Ivanov