Monday, June 29, 2009

Time to A-C-T Stress

STRESS, perhaps is one of the most oft used words of modern world. ‘I am stressed’ is one phrase that I have been uttering more than my name ever since my post education days. Work stresses me, family stresses me, friends stress me, relationship stresses me. And it’s all real I can actually feel the weight.

I got married recently and marriage as you know is a package. New people, new ways of thinking, new ways of everyday living, along with expectations from your existing relationships and demands of your existing job. Till about a fortnight ago I was heading very clumsily attending to both personal and professional life. So busy did I get with this ‘attending’ business that I almost forgot about a life I had once aspired to enjoy. I went around asking friends on how to tackle the situation. But while on surface it might sound similar, actually all of our situations are so different that it is difficult to derive what worked for others into your life.

I realized stress is something extremely internal to me and it is I who can do something about it. After a bout of real hard thinking I embarked upon a method which I would call A-C-T: Ask-Contemplate-Tackle. Many might feel it is a clone of SWOT – well may be.

What I did here is: I first Asked/Analyzed the situation looking at all the whats, whys, whens and hows. Next I Contemplated on the character that I am (good, bad, ugly), people I have around, environment I am in, my financial and social standing. Finally, based on all my derivatives above I charted out on how I tackle the situation.

One bit of caution before we go about the A-C-T exercise is to be as unbiased as possible. Though all questions are extremely subjective we need to keep an independent view of all the entities in question here – ourselves, people around us and our environment.


ASK

What is the situation?
Why have I fallen into it?
When are the times when I fall prey to stressful situations?
How has my external environment played a role in it?

CONTEMPLATE: (A combination of both strengths and weaknesses)

Look at self

What am I like?
How do I react to a situation?
How do I take feedbacks?
How do I react to the unexpected or unknown? …..etc

Look at people around you:

What kinds of behavior make me feel good?
What kinds of behavior intimidate me?
Who all can I open up with and how much?
Role people around me have played in such situations in the past?
Role they could play now?
Do I need to bank upon anyone or is it self handle(able)?

Look at the environment around you

Environment am I comfortable in (could be anything crowded place, not so crowded place, intellectual talks, light talks etc)
Environment I am not comfortable in
What all have I landed myself into, in the past, because of my like or dislike of any environment?
Role, my liking or disliking of my current environment, is playing now

Look at your financial and social standing (independent of stress to asses whether the stress is real or artificial)

Are you fine enough financially?
Are you secure – house, security policies, safe job etc?
Relationship – are you doing fine with all your everyday contacts like spouse, parents, siblings, close friends, boy/girl friend?

Our minds enjoy intense thinking. Stress I would say is another form intense thinking. So sometimes when all is well (finance, security, relationships) we still feel stressed for reasons unknown to us (what many of us call as BLUES). That's because our minds would have created some artificial intense thinking cloud just so that it is occupied. That is why assessing whether the stress is real or artificial is necessary.

TACKLE

Now I have some clarity about:
The situation
How I react and think about something
Impact that people and environment around me have on me
Whether or not I have essential materialistic want

Based on the above make an outline of the following:

ACCEPT: I am stressed because am in real trouble and I want to do something about it.

OR My stress is artificial all that looks wrong to me are actually minor issues

If the stress is real, answer these:

What are those (part of character, people, environment) that I shouldn’t and can’t do away with?
What are those that I should avoid and to what extent?
How much should I get involved intensely (conversation, a situation, a feedback etc)
When should I keep it to surface level?
What are the things that I can let go without hurting myself?
When should I send the ‘I don’t like it’ message?
Which emotions/reactions of mine should I take seriously (based on my experience or real or artificial stress)?
How do I deal with set of people (ones I can/should get closed to, one I should keep it at formal level)?.....etc

There can be many more ways of dealing with a situation. Crux of everything is: The Answer lies within us, all we need is to look for it!


Cheers
Jhinuk

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