Is Stress Good For You?
I hear a resounding “no” although some silent heads nodding a “yes” too. Sometimes stress, actually, is good. It keeps us focused and pushes our limits. Agree that, right?! But, the real trouble starts when we allow stress to get heavy on us.
How Is Stress Turning Your Life Upside Down?
I don’t think we need to be a psychologist or some scholar to figure that out. It blurs our focus, dilutes our decision making skills, pollutes our vision, spoils our sleep pattern, disrupts our mental peace and the list can go on and on.
Anyway, the point to ponder is when stress is good, how it can actually help us and how to know if it is it getting too much to handle? Then answer lies in knowing the symptoms of stress.
It is important to remember that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to any kind of stress, just as there is no “one” particular reason for stress.
I Don’t Believe In Any Kind Of Relaxation Technique
The reason people say that is not because they haven’t tried them. They complain because it didn’t work the first time, or may be even after the second or third trial. So it led them to conclude that relaxation techniques do not work. It is because just like any other thing, dealing with stress requires knowing the right techniques and then learn them with sheer patience and continuous practice.
In order to learn to relax yourself and beat stress, we need to start address the fact that the stress in our life is real and therefore, requires the right devotion and effort to deal with it. According to various studies, stress contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many more diseases. 
To be able to effectively manage stress, we should learn to address it our lives as real. Below, I’ve detailed the 7 tried & tested stress-relieving tips to help you relax yourself in less than 15 minutes.
How To Relax Yourself In Less Than 15 Minutes
1. Breathe It Out
Sounds like repetition? Great!! ‘Coz that’s what you should be doing now. Breathe IN. Breathe OUT. And Repeat!
The only difference you need to make is that you must breathe from your belly (Diaphragmatic breathing). Keep one hand on your chest and another on your belly. Now, try to breathe in a way that your hand on belly starts to move back and forth, in sync with your breath. This is breaking your usual breathing pattern.
Why does it work?
This takes us back to why we stress. Because we are not sure of the outcome, or because we are trying too hard to control it. So, when you focus on breathing, something which is happening Now, in Real Time; for few stolen moments, your mind forgets about the outcome. And…relaxes!
This is actually the least expensive and easiest way to relax yourself. So, try it anytime.
2. Progressive Relaxation
Anyone can point out if you are stressed just by looking at your face or body language. This is because when our mind works under stress, our muscles respond to it unconsciously. This stress translates itself in form of fidgeting, frowned brows, droopy eyes, slouchy posture and like. That’s the point where you need to learn the difference between tensed and relaxed muscles through progressive relaxation.
The technique works in reverse gear. First you build up stress on one part of your muscle, say for example, your forehead. Squeeze the muscles to create tension, try getting your brows meet forcefully. Make a Pug Face. Hold it for a breath. Now, release it to the normal happy forehead state. Do same for your other facial features. Continue doing it for every body part.
Constrict and relax!
It’ll take about 5-10 minutes for one go. So, do it before any meeting/interview, and come out smiling and victorious!
3. Head To Your “Zen” Zone
When nothing works, you should head to your “zen” zone. But, you’ll need to claim it first. It could be a place devoid of everything except a bean bag. For others, it could be just using an aroma candle, to fill up the space with calmness, and meditate  for a while. I have friends that call a bar as their zen zone where they chat and laugh with the ‘I-like-to-Nod’ Bartender and that is their therapy session. Women, on the other hand, go seeking solace in a manicure session.
So, find out what is nearest and relaxes you the most. What next? Plan frequent trips!
4. Organize/Clean Your Desk
Science of heat and molecules (Thermodynamics) talks of a term, ‘Entropy’, and I realized that it has great significance in our daily work lives as well. Concept of entropy says, the more number of molecules (particles) in an area increase the total energy or heat of that area. Similarly, when our desk is cluttered or even your computer desktop, stress molecules go haywire.
So, get rid of what’s adding on to your stress. Refrain from taking it quite literally, though. All I am asking you to do is, organize your desk. It’ll take your mind off of matter at hand, and after you’re done de-cluttering, you’ll be able to think clearly.
A tip to stay organized: Tag your stuff and task with Hot, Medium and Cold markers. That way, you’ll know what is your next priority, without wasting much time and effort.
5. Get Crazy
This time I mean this in a quite literal sense. Do some mindless activity to relax yourself. Paint, cook, shop, punch, curse or just take an elevator to roof top and shout your stress off. You can even dance crazy frog style in elevator. Whatever you do, just don’t plan on doing it. The moment you realize stress tightening its grip, go crazy! Sounds crazy??
6. Write It Down
When I suggested this to my friend, she bluntly replied, ‘Lame!’. It took a few swears on friendship to make her sit and do this. She started out confused as to what to write but, as she went deeper into the details, her pen gained speed. And by the time she finished doing it, a funny ‘relaxed’ expression took over her face.
Quite impressed, she suggested this as a final step: Crush the paper into a ball, and squeeze it with your shoe. Nice and Flat. I have to say, it made quite a ‘cheerful’ addition.
7. Talk To Stress
Woah! Like how??
Easy. Just like the way you plaster your boss’ picture onto your dart board and play!
You can also create a mental picture of your stress or even doodle a little about it. Assume it to have some particular shape, size and mass. Modify it. Give it details. Finally, try to talk-shrink it. So much so, that it reduces to size of a pin point. This is actually part of a process termed as NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which is being used for stress and mental well-being nowadays. Seems difficult?? It only ‘seems’ that way. If you try, you’ll actually be able to do it. I mean, if I can, so can you.
As a final reminder, none of the above techniques will work without conviction and a commitment to practice. So, practice them often to relax yourself. And it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes so practice them in rotation whenever you’re too stressed out.
 Manocha R, Black D, Sarris J, Stough C. A randomized, controlled trial of meditation for work stress, anxiety and depressed mood in full-time workers. Evidence Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:960583. doi: 10.1155/2011/960583. Epub 2011 Jun 7. PubMed PMID: 21716708; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3118731.
Author Mansi Goel is a yoga practitioner and content writer at WorkoutTrends.com, the fitness and workout trends blog where she writes about yoga, stress, happiness and fitness. She’s active on twitter @iam_mansi.
Photo: Maks Karochkin