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Stress Management Techniques in Everyday Life

The term stress is used in many different contexts in our everyday lives. We are stressed when we change jobs, when our air conditioning doesn’t work, we have an exam approaching, we are unable to reach our weight loss goals, or to get to school on time to pick our kids.

Stress is any situation which makes us feel unable to cope with our circumstances, a feeling as if everything has gone out of control. Whether positive or negative, regular stress affects our health, and causes depression, anxiety, heart problems, cold , flu and many other ailments besides biochemical reactions releasing hormones which make the body go into the fight or flight mode.
Here are seven effective techniques for managing everyday stress and not allowing it to disrupt life-

1. Let it out
The best way to relieve stress is to talk it out with someone you trust-friend, spouse or a family member. If you can’t or don’t wish to, then just scribble out your feelings on a piece of paper. Venting out almost always makes one feel light instantly.

  • 2. Deep breathing
    The most tried and tested way to feel calm is to take deep breaths.
    Take long deep breaths through your nostrils feeling your abdomen expand in the process, wait for 2 seconds and exhale, drawing in your abdomen. Doing this a few times circulates fresh oxygen and relieves stress.
  • Touch the tips of your index fingers on the joints where your jaws meet, then inhale and exhale alternately.

3. Exercises
While taking regular morning and evening walks has no comparison when it comes to having a healthy mind and body, there are some exercises you can do to have immediate relief from stress_

  • Stand upright without slouching. This relieves muscular tension.
    Stretching exercises are great stress-busters as they loosen muscles and increase blood flow.
  • The Chinese practice of Qigong provides many calming exercises to promote the flow of positive energy in the body.
  • Rub the palms of your hands together and place them on your eyes for 3 minutes.

4. Being optimistic
Instead of feeling victimized by your circumstances, do a thorough analysis of your job, home environment or anything that triggers stress. Take small positive steps to improve your situation rather than bearing it grudgingly. Develop your own positive mantra such as “I can do it and I’m capable”, and repeat it to yourself daily.

5. Setting limits
Learn to say “no” before you arrive at breaking point. Accept that there are certain things which won’t get done, and there are certain people whom you can never please.

6. Hobby
Each day or weekend, schedule a little time for the hobby that you have kept on the backburner. It releases feel good hormones like endorphins that make your mind calm and happy.

7. Mindfulness
This is a recent technique where in you are taught to be aware of each and every moment in your present. This removes focus from stressful situations. Close your eyes and imagine yourself to be in a calming scenario such as a lush hillside, or a serene beach, for a few minutes.

Social support and mental health

The presence and support of social connections is important not only for our physical wellbeing (as we need support in times of illness), but for our mental wellbeing as well. We all need someone whom we can turn to for emotional comfort in our troubled times – someone who can lend us an ear, share our happiness and achievements, advise us , lend us child care support or simply be there.

Social Support
Support on typewriter

Mental health is the state of mind that denotes how an individual reacts, thinks, behaves with others, and deals with problems in his life. It is important to sustain positive mental health for living a good life, and one of the factors that contributes deeply to improving mental health is the degree of social support that we have.
Social support
According to Lin, Simeone and Ensel (1979) “Social support is the support accessible to an individual through social ties to other individuals, groups, and the larger community.” People who are able to provide us with physical, psychological and social help and moral support in our times of need may include any of the following-

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Neighbours
  • Co-workers
  • Community members

Social support boosts mental health
Research has found that though both quantity and quality of social support is important for mental health, quality plays a greater role. It is very important for our mental wellbeing to develop our social relationships because of the following ways in which a strong social support benefits us-
1. Reduces stress and depression
The first and foremost benefit of having close associations is that we have someone to share our problems with. Just talking out our concerns with a trusted friend reduces stress levels to a great extent. A study of people over 20 years found that associating with happy friends made individuals 25% more likely to be happy as well. People who have helpful friends and family surrounding them are less prone to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. It is commonly found that depressed people interact less with friends and have lower marital satisfaction.
2. Improves self esteem
Being part of a social network is good for one’s self confidence. When we interact with a group, we become aware of others’ problems as well, and are able to offer them our ideas in turn. Receiving recognition for one’s ideas and talents from friends and associates boosts one’s self-worth. The person feels loved and valued when he is a part of a supportive community.
3. Increases lifespan
People with a strong social support network have happier lives and generally live longer. A 2010 study by Smith and Layton found that low social interaction was as harmful for health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

4. Decreases loneliness
When you know you have a great set of friends to rely on, you will never feel alone in your troubles.
Nurturing relationships is hard work, but it is one thing that needs investment of our time because our connections go a long way in managing our mental health.

Resilience and mental health

Life, as we know, is not a bed of roses. Adversities, difficult circumstances and hopeless situations are all a part of life. There are some people who come out of their hardships stronger than before, and then there are some who break under the pressures of life. Studies have found communities where despite favourable socio-economic conditions, genetics, environment, and material resources, instances of drug and alcohol abuse have been found to be higher whereas individuals in poorer circumstances have been found to have better outcomes. What quality sets these two kinds of individuals apart?

Resilience and mental health
It is resilience.
Resilience is the ability of a person to endure and cope with adversities and challenging situations in life, such as the death of a loved one, relationship stresses, illnesses and disorders, accidents, trauma, loss of job. Being resilient does not actually end a person’s problems, but it prevents him from being a passive victim of his circumstances.
A non-resilient person might succumb to mental illnesses such as depression, nervous breakdown, and anxiety disorders. He might lose himself to substance abuse to avoid reality, but resilience enables him to see the good in everyday, to look beyond his misfortunes and find new reasons to live and move on.
Mental health and resilience
Mental health has been defined by WHO (2003) as “a state of wellbeing whereby individuals recognize their abilities, are able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully , and make a contribution to their communities.” Mental health affects an individual’s lifestyle, productivity, education, employment, health, relationships and quality of life.
Positive mental health depends on resilience, and ability of a person for positive adaptation to enable him to overcome hardships and achieve his full potential in life. Good mental health in turn increases resilience. Studies show that resilience provides an individual or communities with positive assets that decrease the negative impact of risk factors (adversities) on outcomes (standard of living, health, education, mental health).
Effects of resilience
1. Children who are resilient and emotionally well-adjusted show greater learning capacity and lesser rates of crime as adults.
2. Resilient adults undertake marriage and parenthood as responsibilities at proper times and are better equipped to handle the associated stresses.
3. People who have strong social connections have a better hold over their lives and are more resilient. Communities with more social participation and mutual trust are beneficial to the mental health of individuals.

Resilient practices
Individuals who are optimistic, have confidence to plan their lives well, and can manage strong emotions are generally resilient individuals. Resilience can be developed through-

  • Having a strong social support system
  • Accepting changes and moving on in life
  • Being optimistic and hopeful for the future
  • Looking after oneself and learning new skills

Resilience is more related to the emotional and social dimensions of our lives.Developing resilience takes different strategies for different communities. Studies by Bartley et al show that good diet and cooking skills play an important part in increasing resilience of low income communities in Mediterranean countries. A qualified psychologist can be consulted to help individuals develop resilience.

Problem saving strategies in daily activities


A life free of problems can only be imagined. We face innumerable problems, small and big, in our day-to-day lives. We have to invariably look for ways to solve them because if left unsolved, these problems can escalate to huge proportions.

Problem saving strategies

Problem solving is necessary because
Unsolved life problems lead to stress, anxiety, and depression and affect mental health negatively.

  • Solving problems successfully removes feelings of inadequacy and guilt from our hearts and boosts self-esteem
  • A person who can deal with his problems well has a satisfying work and family life.
  • The way an individual solves his problems reflects his efficiency.

What is problem solving?
In our daily life we face numerous glitches- deciding on a career, preparing for an interview, planning what to cook, organizing things around the house, buying vehicle or property, completing assignments or homework on time, finalizing details for a party with family etc… To understand a particular difficulty, and to take steps to find a working solution to it is called problem solving. It is a mental process that involves a sequential set of strategies if a successful solution is to be reached.

It is wise to go about solving a problem step by step-
It is very important to first define exactly what the problem is, and to not get side-tracked by random issues.

  • All the vital information needed should be gathered and organized.
  • The time, money, contacts and other resources required to reach a solution have to be decided upon.
  • The particular strategy to be used to solve the problem is identified, based on the particular situation and personal preferences.
  • Results should be monitored, and a different approach should be taken if the desired effects are not achieved.

Strategies for solving problems
We often see that elderly people are able to offer quicker and often better solutions to many of our everyday problems. They have been there done that. Past experiences are a vast source of information and a great help in tiding through present circumstances. Following strategies are found to be most accepted to solve problems:
Past experiences
A solution that has worked in the past may or may not work again for the same kind of problem. But having dealt with the same situation in the past would give us an idea how far a particular means is going to work. This approach is also referred to as heuristics.

Algorithms are step by step flowcharts prepared to find solution to a problem. They are widely used to solve mathematical problems. Algorithms are equally useful at organizations and in personal lives to arrive at the logical solution to a complex situation.

Some answers evade us even though we keep thinking of them day and night. Then, suddenly sometimes the solutions hit us as an insight. This, however, is not a very reliable strategy to solve a problem.

Trial method
From amongst many solutions, each one may be tried and tested before finding the perfect resolution
Whatever be life’s situation, an intelligent use of skills, resources and knowledge helps to arrive at a successful solution.




Anxiety and fear are often considered to be synonymous. While we might substitute one for the other, both are different terms from psychological perspective. Fear is a worry about something in our immediate environment or future, while anxiety is a condition when an individual worries extremely and constantly about things which might or might not occur in future. So, when you face a lion in a forest, you are overcome with fear, and you take immediate steps like running or hiding to protect yourself. Whereas, when you worry every morning about your work appraisal, and panic at every office situation, you are suffering from anxiety.

How can you identify anxiety?

Johns Hopkins University studies reveal that an anxious person spends around 300 minutes a day worrying as compared to 55 minutes by a normal person. Just like many lifestyle and mental health disorders, anxiety manifests itself as a collection of many symptoms such as:

  1. Constant and obsessive thoughts of future and circumstances beyond control.
  2. Frequent headaches, heart palpitations, sweaty limbs and insomnia.
  3. Constant fatigue.
  4. Upset stomach, dehydration and diarrhoea.
  5. The person might be phobic and fear intensely and unrealistically a particular situation or object that might actually not be dangerous at all.
  6. He is irritable and unable to be calm.
  7. Feels tensed and jumpy at minor issues.
  8. Has constant nightmares and flashbacks to traumatic events.

When an individual shows many or all of these symptoms most of the time, he is said to suffer from anxiety disorders.
Lifestyle and anxiety
While the causes of anxiety are manifold, like genetics, home environment, childhood traumas, chemical imbalance in the brain etc. ., it is sometimes believed that the living conditions and lifestyle evolved much faster than our brains. The human brain was designed to conquer immediate fears, like the fear of survival and food, and with the changing lifestyles man was not able to cope with his fears. In today’s times a man worries for his job, his relationships, also his health, all of which do not have immediate outcomes.
Anxiety manifests itself most usually between 20-30 years of age in a person, and might get aggravated after the age of 40. When in small doses, anxiety makes the individual proactive and think of ways to overcome his situation.
However, when the nervousness transcends to constant anxiety, it affects life negatively in the following ways:

  • The person suffering from anxiety is not able to perform everyday functions normally due to being tensed all the time.
  • His work, relationships and social life begin suffer and he feels socially isolated.
  • When left untreated for long, anxiety leads to other conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and schizophrenia.
  • A distressed mind causes adverse effects on the body, making it more susceptible to respiratory, heart and gastric ailments.

While the statistics are disheartening, help is always available for managing and treating anxiety through medication, psychotherapy, and proper awareness, and it is possible for the individual to lead a healthy and happy life.

Employee assistance program

Employee assistance program is a program that is paid for by a company for the benefit and wellbeing of its employees. Under this kind of program, the employer hires a third party or EAP which assists the employees in their times of distress and personal crisis in life, in order that the crisis might not have an adverse effect on the employees’ productivity at work.

Employee assistance program
Concept of EAP
EAP came into existence during the 1960-1970s. In those years, it was looked upon more of as an intervention program to help employees with problems such as alcoholism and drug abuse. During the 1980s, such interventions progressed to including the worker’s family members and providing counselling support to them as well, leading to full assistance. The first modern EAP was developed by Tony Buon and Xiaoping Zhu in Shanghai. The practice has been in widespread use across China, UK, US and other countries since.

What services does this program provide?
It is agreed upon by all major economists and managers around the world that when looking out for employment, people give higher priority to job and life satisfaction rather than the pay. An employee who is facing troubles in his life, family, health and relationships is not too motivated to give his best at work if the employer is indifferent to his personal situation.

The Employee Assistance Program help the employees deal with these troubles which include-
1. Life-altering events such as deaths, accidents, divorce etc.
2. Drug abuse and alcoholism
3. Health issues such as disabilities, prolonged illness of a family member
4. Issues related to child care and aging elders in the family
5. Occupational stress
6. Emotional stresses, feelings of inadequacy etc.
7. Depression

The EAP offers consultation and counselling services to the employee and their family members for dealing with the life situations. It identifies the problems and provides for emotional and moral support in resolving them, and also refers the employees to other suitable professionals as required, such as to lawyers, child care specialist, old-age caretakers, financial advisors, marriage counsellors, etc. The privacy of the worker is closely guarded throughout the proceedings of the EAP.

Healthy Mind Works provides EAP to many companies in a similar fashion, providing for counselling, telephone consultations and referral services.

Benefits to employer
The first and foremost benefit of EAP to the employer is in terms of employee productivity. Through a third person point of view, the concerned employee is able to view his problems in a new light and receive solutions to relieve his anxieties. Talking it out with a neutral person also makes a lot of difference to the mental health of a person, when employees are satisfied and happy in their lives, they give in their best at work and are less prone to skip work. Besides reducing problems of employee retention and absenteeism, employee assistance programs reduce the medical costs of the company.

When the company takes an interest in the wellbeing of its workers, the employees feel valued. Such a company is also the employer of choice for the best talents in industry.

Stress Management and Burnout Awareness Training

We often feel tired, disengaged, and de-motivated. This can be due to a change in responsibilities, extraordinary demands, uncertainty at job, and various other factors. This usually happens when we become physically and mentally overwhelmed by stress in our lives. Also, exhaustion, ineffectiveness and cynicism become a norm.

Stress Management and Burnout Awareness TrainingStress often results in burnout. Both of them are somehow related to each other and individuals can lower the possibility of them by identifying burnout symptoms and taking actions to manage stress.
Here we will help you in determining the symptoms of burnout and managing stress for a successful lifestyle.

Burnout Symptoms – Burnout Awareness Training
Burnout can take place over a long time period. You may experience it when you find your work meaningless, feel neglected or when things go out of your control. You must always work it out beforehand when you think that the feelings of burnout have started to occur. Otherwise, the consequences of burnout can be very severe which can affect your productivity at work and cause terrible problems in your professional and personal life, and overall well-being. Here are some of the symptoms of burnout that you should consider.

  • Having low energy
  • Trouble in sleeping
  • Absenteeism at work
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Experiencing health and physical complains (headaches, backache, illness)
  • Feeling unimportant
  • Getting frustrated on irrelevant issues
  • Demotivation

Stress Management
Stress is usually short-term and has signs similar to that of burnout. But it can be for a longer time period if you are consistently facing such issues. We have come up with a few stress management tactics to help you take control of the situation.

  • Exercise Regularly
    One of the best ways to lessen stress is to exercise on a daily basis. It creates a sense of well-being. You will feel productive and energized by exercising. Also, if you have experienced many sleepless nights due to stress, then exercise can help you in getting a good sleep.
  • Social Engagement
    Being socially engaged can be one of the quickest ways to overcome stress. Your nervous system can stay calm and composed when you communicate with others and they understand you. You should try and talk to your friends and family regularly in person. It is not necessary that the people you communicate with will be able to fix your stress but they just need to be good listeners. Also, you can make time for fun and relaxation with them.
  • Taking Control
    You must learn how to say ‘no’ to things which stress you. Taking more than you can suffer can stress you. Moreover, you must avoid people who leave you tensed or feeling negative. You can limit the amount of time you spend with such people or can simply avoid them.
  • Be Happy
    Usually when you are stressed, you hold it inside which automatically affects your facial expressions. So you must ensure to laugh, smile, dress your best, and stay happy to relieve tension and feel happy. As they say, when you look good, you feel good.

Knowing the symptoms of burnout and managing stress may seem difficult but once mastered, can be an integrated health and safety strategy for your well-being.

E- Counselling – what and why?

Counsellors and therapists were not so much of known names two decades back as much as they are now. E counselling is a new concept in the field of therapy that caters to clients online.

 e counselling
Almost every single individual is living in stressed times. Stress of work, stress to live at par with our social circle, stress of maintaining harmonious relationships, stress of earning well- it goes on and on. Everyday pressures take a toll on us sooner or later. There are some who are able to deal with this stress better than the others. Then there are some, who try as they might, are unable to cope with the pressures of life’s demands

Need for counselling
At times we are so overwhelmed by the demands- physical, social or emotional- made on us, that we are unable to handle everything by ourselves. We need a guide, a friend, relative or advisor, who would look at our perspective and lend us moral and emotional support. It is not easy to find such a close aid and moreover, discard our inhibitions and share our deepest feelings with them. Not everyone finds that easy, but if not done in time, our concerns and fears may transform themselves into symptoms such as depression, and other mental disorders.

That is the reason more and more people turn to professional guidance to resolve their psychological issues now.

Mental health statistics
Studies by WHO show that more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression. 90% of the world’s total population lives under stress. According to WHO statistics, more than 800000 people die from suicide globally each year.
Psychiatrists, psychotherapists and counsellors have become an indispensable part of society. If one prefers to go and visit a counsellor or therapist personally, nothing like it. But the good news is Nowadays, there are many organizations, clinics and set ups that offer e counselling services too.

What is e counselling?
E counselling refers to the counselling services provided by professional mental health care practitioners over the internet. It is also known as e-coaching or online counselling.

E counselling began as a fad, but with time this concept has gained a lot of prominence in society. During e counselling, qualified therapists give life advice to clients using technology such as video conferencing, emails, live chatting, and other modes of modern internet communication. E counsellors are not necessarily psychiatrists, in that they cannot diagnose the mental illness of the client or patient. They cannot prescribe medications. E counsellors are basically advisors and certified therapists who advise the clients facing difficulties in life, work, relationships and other areas. It is like talking your heart out to an unbiased and honest friend, who would listen to you and help you in gaining a perspective on your life situations, as well as give you tips and advice on how to deal with circumstances.

Why e counselling
More and more people are opting for the online counselling mode these days, though it is no replacement for a usual psychotherapy session. This might be attributed to the fact that the online mode is more accessible, saves transport time, and provides greater anonymity if on might prefer so. When a counselling interaction is online, it is easier for people to feel free and share their innermost worries. They feel less intimidated, and are able to better relate their problems and get involved in sharing them.

Health Mind Works
This is what Healthy Mind Works does. For e counselling services, clients are required to register themselves through an online form. Following this, the client receives a questionnaire, which he has to fill and return. An appointment for an online session is then provided to the client. It is that simple!

Work Life Balance

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The proverb applies to us in our grown up lives as well. This essentially is at the core of the concept of work-life balance that has gained a lot of prominence in recent times. To lead a fulfilling life, it is very important that there is harmony between the personal and professional lives of individuals.

Work Life Balance
Why do we need work-life balance?
In these times of ever present technology, it is getting more and more difficult for a person to totally switch off from his work or profession even once he is out of office. Through emails, video conferences. Chats, one is always connected to the workplace. It becomes very difficult to cut off and focus on other aspects of life.
Work –life balance helps one to achieve a better harmony between professional, spiritual, personal, health-related and relationships- related areas of one’s life. If one pays attention to just earning money, his career and relationships invariably suffer. Conversely, due to not being satisfied on the personal front, his ability to put in his best at work too suffers. What fun is it to come back to an empty house after a promotion at job? What sense of fulfilment would one achieve if he is at the top position at his company, but cannot enjoy a morning walk with colleagues due to a stiff back?

Work –life balance helps one to achieve a better harmony between professional, spiritual, personal, health-related and relationships- related areas of one’s life. If one pays attention to just earning money, his career and relationships invariably suffer. Conversely, due to not being satisfied on the personal front, his ability to put in his best at work too suffers. What fun is it to come back to an empty house after a promotion at job? What sense of fulfilment would one achieve if he is at the top position at his company, but cannot enjoy a morning walk with colleagues due to a stiff back?
Not only at work, but in every area of one’s life, we all want Tobe perfectionists. Our homes, partners, children, lifestyle should all be at par with the ideals set by society. In the pursuit of perfection, we tend to lose ourselves and become so stressed that the joy goes out of everyday living.
How the employer can help?
It is fast becoming norm for employers to take care of the overall wellbeing of their workers. Employees, especially women, with highly stressful jobs are more likely to quit and take leaves. A 2007 research at Kenexa shows employees are more satisfied with and have a greater sense of loyalty towards their workplace when their company actively helps them to balance their jobs with their lives.

The work-life balance training program at Healthy Mind Works is a one of a kind program that imparts psychologically approved methods to employees to help them prioritize various aspects of their lives. A group of 10 participants is counselled through a session of 2.5 hours duration under the training.

Benefits of work-life balance program
A work life balance program would help one to-
1. Set clear priorities in life regarding work, health and family goals.
2. Switch off from work mode and pay attention to the other aspects of life after work hours.
3. Enjoy his relationships with spouse, children, extended family and friends in a better manner.
4. Look after his health, take regular check-ups, and include exercise regimen and a healthy eating lifestyle in his day.
5. Make his life more fulfilling, thus enabling him to perform better at his job, and live a satisfied life.

Mindfulness Training


Mindfulness means being completely conscious of one’s surroundings and circumstances through all of one’s senses. Being mindful is to be totally aware of what is going on around us, with the people around us, as well as what is going on within us – our emotions. It is a psychological concept of the recent times.
Mindfulness has its origin in ancient Buddhism, though as a concept it has gained popularity in recent times, mostly owing to the teachings of Jon Kabat Zinn. Of mindfulness training.

Mindfulness training
What is mindfulness training?
Mindfulness training is one of the most popular techniques employed today for helping one to lead a balanced life and control restraining emotions. It helps one to learn how to control one’s feelings during difficult but everyday circumstances.
As we wake up each day, most of our activities are mechanical- working out, having breakfast, working through the day, taking care of home and various activities of children- mostly everything happens automatically. We don’t usually pay much attention to what we are doing, how we are doing it, or if there is some other way to do the everyday routine task. The same applies to our reactions to the various situations we face in day to day life. Our minds are auto wired to react in specific ways when we are faced with specific crises.

Often times we fantasize having reacted differently to a particular situation, in a way which would have caused us less grief or pain. Though when the similar situation would arise again, we would be sure to react as we did in the past, setting up a cycle of negative destructive behaviour, which would lead to a cycle of remorse. Unresolved feelings lead to stress, depression and anxieties of every kind, which prevent us from living our lives to the fullest.
Through mindfulness training, a person is taught to be extremely aware of each and every second of what is going on around him and within him. A person is made responsive to each and every emotion that arises in him. This helps the individual to take a balanced approach to whatever is troubling him. He is able to pay close attention to his responses and monitor them, rather than reacting in pre-defined destructive ways. Thus the person is able to govern his behaviour leading to his own happiness, rather than behaving in a set pattern defined by external factors.
That is the reason it is fast becoming one of the most used procedures for treating symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve general wellbeing and health of individuals.
How this is done
Where Buddhism teaches mindfulness through meditation techniques and the five-aggregate model of the mind, Jon Kabat Zinn developed an MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) program for teaching the practice of mindfulness training. Different teaching centres follow their different criteria for training clients in mindfulness.
Benefits of mindfulness training
1. It is effective in reducing stress and worries and unnecessary rumination about the past
2. Helps to handle difficult situations in life
3. Helps to balance life in a better relaxed way.
4. Helps to recognise and do away with depressing unwanted behaviours.
5. Mindfulness training is used to alleviate symptoms of many physical ailments as well.
6. It improves the general wellbeing of a person practising it.

Where can you get mindfulness training?
Healthy Mind works offers an 8 session mindfulness training course, during which patrons are taught both theoretically and practically, the various techniques involved in becoming conscious to ourselves and our surroundings. Interactive meditation CDs and home exercises are also provided to impart greater knowledge.