Arindam Chaudhuri
Passion at work
There are two simple tests one should begin with. The first test is to clench your right hand. The second test is about trying to estimate without looking at the watch a time period of 60 seconds. If in the first case you held your breath while doing so or in the second case your estimate was less by 10 seconds or more ; Stress is in all probabilities causing you distress.

Before I start talking about managing stress lets talk about what is stress and what causes stress. You have got a flight to catch at 9 in the night and an emergency meeting keeps you busy till 6 in the evening. You have got to pack up in a hurry and leave and half way to the airport you realise that your tickets are lying in your office drawers still... You have finalised the report for one of the most important projects of your life and your child spills coffee over it... Your wife is a cleanliness freak... Your whole office wants a treat and you are thinking of a place where you can take them with affordable damages... Your boss is forever increasing your targets (and you are forever falling short of it)... Your daughter is about to get married... You have been fired... You are having sexual difficulties... You are in debt... You are planning to jump the next traffic signal... Your wife is planning to leave you, or, for that matter, your girl friend wants to get married to you!

The thought itself, of any of the above, is perhaps enough to get you stressed and yet let me tell you in the above list I have omitted the thing which causes maximum stress. In a ranking done by people of what is most stress causing, death of spouse or a loved one was at top. I didn't mention it in the above list because most of the above things happen more often in life than death.

So now what is Stress? In a survey conducted ("The mind survey : stress at work" by an organisation called MORI) among financial institutions it was revealed that 64% of employees regarded stress as the principle health threat factor facing their company. It was four times the number who cited heart disease and six times as many as said alcoholism. The same research suggested that around half of all absence from work in large organisations are due to stress related illness. Estimate suggest that it effects 1.4% of the work force at any one time and 13% of all sickness. In the US more than 40 million work days are lost annually as a result of this. In UK the cost of absenteeism on grounds of ill health due to stress have been estimated at more than 10 billion pounds a year. In this millennium it is expected to be the number one threat to health and well being (yes, we are not talking about cancer or AIDS). THAT IS STRESS.

Its that eye-popping, stomach-gripping, teeth-grinding, face-flushing intensity and vein-throbbing feeling of impending explosion, which can pulverize your control quicker than a roller coaster ride. Its a global phenomenon which is every where, inescapable and certainly unhealthy. Stress covers a wide range of views, thoughts, feelings, body conditions, health, behaviour and work related issues. It reflects certain concerns like anxiety, anger, frustration, fatigue, depression, colds, headaches, boredom and absenteeism. It has been established that stress related emotions make it more likely that we catch cold or that we die more quickly from several varieties of cancer, and chronic stress can also cause permanent damage to emotional and cognitive brain functions such as memory. It is generally regarded as unpleasant, undesirable and unwanted, though, this need not always be the case. And finally it is highly individual... One person's meat is another person's poison.

STRESS BY ITSELF CAN'T HURT ANYONE - IT'S HOW YOU RESPOND TO STRESS THAT COUNTS. You may be feeling depressed right now with all this negative talks on stress and its effects. Though stress (which is a result of your mental attitude) can pump hormones in your body which can be profoundly harmful yet positive attitude, feelings and expectations can negate its effects. While stress can destroy, positive attitude can heal.

Chances are that stress could be coming from mainly about seven sources. It could be comming from FINANCIAL problems, HEALTH problems, bad TIME MANAGEMENT, FAMILY problems (spouse, children or parents etc.), WORK related problems (co-workers, job defination, commuting etc.), HOUSE hold problems and SOCIAL LIFE.

Rule 1 : Develop a positive attitude. Stop thinking of yourself as stupid or good for nothing. The more you have a negative self esteem the worse are your chanses to be effected by stress related problems. Think of yourself as somebody who is capable and can do what he wants to. Think of yourself as a person who can manage his finances well, get over health problems through mind power, systematically manage time when you want to, solve family problems by talking them out, solve work problems by being genuine and passionate at work, solve house hold problems by taking them as they come and manage social life by not giving it unnecessary importance. Try to convert problems into challenges. Its no use looking at problems as problems. Everyone has to face them. Those who convert them into challenges are the ones who come out with flying colours. Upon being asked on how he felt on "failing" 9999 times in his attempt to perfect an electric bulb, Thomas Edison replied that he had "not failed" but learnt 9999 ways of how not to make an electric bulb - a positive attitude that conclusively led to one of most useful scientific creations ever. Expect frustrations and failures at times, that's why they call it "work".

Rule 2 : Put your mind at work. On the social front if you have friends call them in manageable groups to your house and treat them to home made cakes and cookies instead of planning flashy parties with unmanageable numbers. It's the quality which counts and not the jazz. On the home front try to be prepared and systematic so that in case of a power cut you don't need to shout around for the candle or for that matter understand the importance of living a clean life instead of becoming a cleanliness freak. Clean is one thing and disinfected and hermetically sealed and tested is another. On the job learn to delegate and avoid unhealthy competition. Learn to pace your activities so that you can achieve your targets. On the family front explain to your wife the importance of staying together and bringing up your children together or for that matter explain to your parents the importance of maintaining a little distance at times. Learn to take out time wasters from your day and schedule things in order to avoid procrastination and bad time management. Take the right health insurance policies and go for regular by annual check-ups in order to avoid health related emergencies and to be prepared for the rainy day. Don't gamble or invest all your money in the stock market (and for heavens sake don't borrow from your mother in law for the same) and live to become a George Soros. Don't be over ambitious and end up buying every thing on instalments. Credit cards and zero interest loans (and other such schemes) are lovely slaves but bad masters.

Rule 3 : Start living a healthy life. Have the right diet and exercise. Forget about that third mug of coffee everyday. Don't use work, social life or any emotional problems as an excuse for becoming an alcoholic. Smoking is no more happening and no use trying to watch that late night movie on the cable if you have got to get up at 6.30 next morning. Exercising is a must. Anil Ambani describes it as one of the most important aspects of success. He feels you should look as good as your company and vice versa. Some of the Indian ways like Yoga etc. help to manage stress better than anything else. The right kind of breathing techniques can help you manage tense times better.

Rule 4 : Know how to relax. Don't attach undue importance to everything. Remember the 80:20 principle. 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. At times its a great idea to forget the work in the office, leave it pending and going for your childs stupid painting competition where you are definite that she will get no prizes. When is the last time you ditched your office and took your children for that animation film called "Lion King" or took your wife to buy the 86th shade of lipstick? Do it. Learn to say "no" to things which are of less importance. Educate people on the importance of leaving a message on the answering machine and forget about rushing madly to pick up the phone every time it rings.

Rule 5 : Spend time with nature. Even if you are living in the 31st street of New York, visit the local park for a morning jog. Make regular trips to the country side with family and friends. Decorate your room with plants and try to have a nice garden at home. A nice weekend trip to a nearby hillstation or beach can perk up your productivity for weeks to come. Learn to enjoy time with nature instead of your computer and office walls.