Tag Archives: stress

Stressed? Here are 5 ways to De-Stress…

My masterpiece – a scale model for stress relief

When my second son was born, both my wife and I had difficult time taking care of him. Although he wasn’t colicky but he was definitely gave us a hard time particularly during feeding. At some point I questioned why did we put ourselves through it. But being parents it was something that we both have to learn how to be patient. I can tell you that I was so stressed that I felt hopeless and angry most of the time.

My son just turned 17th and he just passed his driving test. Looking back while he was growing up I can tell you he is a joy in our family because he is always happy and has tons of “fun” energy. He is a blessing to us and I wouldn’t change a thing if I can turn go back in time.

Now you may asked how I was able to go through such hardship (if you want to call parenting hard) and come out victorious. I think it has to do with how I see myself and how I deal with the stress. Some stress is healthy but if you are burdened with stress then it could become suicidal.

Today I’m going to list 5 ways to deal with stress that I find useful. There are other ways as well but I’m not going to list everyone of them as it may take more than one post.

Enjoy Something that Takes Time to Complete

Invest time in doing something you really enjoy. I’m not talking about something that can be completed in an hour. I’m referring to a project that can take hours or days to complete, and it has to be something that you enjoy. For example, you can try putting a 1,000 pieces of jigsaw or maybe try building the dog house. For me, it is spending hours building the perfect scale model. As my kids are all grown up I have been spending more and more time in this hobby. It takes a lot of patience and at times frustrating if I don’t get certain parts correct. However, I can tell you that it is the best way for me to de-stress.

Start a Work-out Regime

This is an easy thing to start and complete. However, it requires commitment. If you set a SMART goal, getting into the groove can help de-stress. Imagine have a workout regime with the goal to run 5 miles within a month time. Having a goal not only helps you focus, but it also helps you de-stress. It would be even better if you can join a group of friends with the same goal in mind. This will put you in the competitive mode and further help in keeping the stress level down.

Reading a Book, Listen to Music or Write a Blog

Before I started working on my hobby, I would go to the local library and borrow the new books which only have 2 weeks lending period. It helps me de-stress as I had a separate deadline to complete. I find that if I enjoy the book time flies and I would not even notice the 2 weeks deadline. Nowadays I would have a music playing while I’m working. It helps me focus more and reduce the stress with the multitude deadlines that I have. At the end of the day (like right now) or end of the week writing a blog also helps refocus my thoughts.

Take a Walk

I still remember vividly when I started working for HSBC. The deadlines and the workload was unbearable that I always went home angry after work. It was definitely not healthy to my family and myself. One day during work I decided to drop everything and step away from my desk. I took a two hours walk around my office coming refreshed. Since then I learned to remove myself from my laptop when I feel stressed.

Spending Time with Family

If you read my earlier post, my daughter is having difficulty with her anxiety. I have begun to spend more time with her and talk to her more often. I find that not only it helps me understand my daughter more I also felt more relaxed. Having someone to talk to is important, especially with someone you care. If you feel overwhelmed do not feel bad or ashamed that you need to talk.

Do not less stress get the better of you. Some stress is healthy but if it becomes overwhelming, it can cause more than just losing sleep. It is extremely important that you take care of yourself by knowing yourself. Learning to de-stress is different for everyone. You need to search within yourself to see what works for you. As long as you can do something you enjoy, you are one step closer from being burnt out.

How to Channel Stress

I recently took a virtual workshop at work on the subject of leadership. One of the question that came up was how to deal with stress. I’ve never really given much thought on stress because I deal with it head-on. But as I consider the question more I realized that I have using stress by channeling it into something more production. In the workshop I remember the answer I gave to the group, “without stress, life is boring!”

So what is stress? Stress is a feeling when we feel uncomfortable when we are not able to solve the problem at hand. Or that we feel of failure if we are not able to complete the challenge satisfactory.

It is true that without stress, our life would be uneventful. Just imagine that sitting in front of TV for the entire day relaxing because we are stress free. Instead of thinking of all the things that require us to work on we just stare at the TV and not moving an inch. I don’t know about you – I know I can’t sit more than 2 hours not doing anything because I become restless and feel useless.

Stress is important and can help us if we know how to use it to our advantage. We can channel the stress and convert it into something productive. However, needless to say that if we less stress overtake our ability to handle them, then it becomes dangerous. To me stress is like the grass on my lawn. I know the lawn is pleasant to look at when it is green and lush. However, if I fail to mow it every few weeks, the grass will grow longer and weeds will start taking over.

Plan and Produce

No one in the modern society can say that they were never stressed. There is always something that would need our attention. Paying bills, getting ready for tomorrow’s project or even getting kids ready for school can be stressful. Most of us would take the easy way out by getting them done grumpily. Over time we would think of them as chores and start to hate them. My solution is plan ahead, get them done and learn from them. As an example, instead of making the same school lunch for my kids everyday I would plan ahead the night before on what to make. Instead of rushing in the morning to get it done, I would get the ingredients ready so I can jump right on to it. I challenge myself by making healthy lunch because not only my kids need it, it is also because I believe I can do it.

Keep Brain Active and Healthy

Sometimes we do feel tired after a long day of work. It is not because of all the work that we do but it is because of all the brain activity required. During my time-off I would usually spend most of my time doing housework inside and outside the house. By the end of the day my body ache because of all the physical activity involved. Even after a full night sleep my body would continue to ache the next day. However, it is entirely different when I work on my full-time job. I actually feel more exhausted at the end of day because of responding and solving problems at work. After a good long sleep I feel more refreshed because I was able to re-energize my brain. The stress of challenges at work actually help in keeping my mind healthy.

Stress Helps Us to Innovate

Stress can actually help us innovate. Think about it – stress is a result of difficulty in solving a problem. However, if we continue to solve the problem the same way we did it before it becomes a chore. Instead, we should find new ways to solve the problem more effectively. I work for the reporting function at HSBC. Every month our team must complete a series of reports within a week. Instead of doing the same thing every month, our team continues to make improvements on our process to complete the reports more effectively. We use macros in Excel to repeat the steps; we build templates to making data changes easier. In short, don’t use stress as an excuse; use it to help you to be better.

Everyone takes on stress differently. Some may deal with stress negatively and some may take it as a challenge. I am the latter. I never like monotony because life becomes boring if we repeat the tasks everyday. I have been working professionally for almost 30 years now and I have my fair share of challenges. Most of the challenges come with different level of stress. Over the years I have learned how to face the stress and I believe I have been successful in using it to help me.

Is This a Start of Another Journey?

I’m over 50 years old and I believe I have enough life experience to be a mentor. However, I consider myself as an introvert and rarely put myself in front of people and advertise myself. But my inner-self continue to nudge me to do better by helping others. With that being said, I’m on a new journey to become a Life Coach.

The bigger question that anyone who reads this may ask, “Are you qualified?” After much pondering and self-reflection, the answer is unequivocally “Yes!”

Stress and Mental Health

Mental health has become a big issue in recent years and anyone who may have experienced it continue to have lingering effects. I consider myself to be mental-health free because I love my life. I learned from experience how to tackle some of the stress away and I have a loving family to walk the life journey with me.

Career Advice

Another angle that I have expertise is my work experience in corporate America. I started as a lowly entry-level employee at Arthur Andersen. After spending over 5 years at Andersen (renamed from Arthur Andersen), I went to Citigroup where I spend 13 years going through all kinds of changes. This year will be my 7th year at HSBC and I love where I am. Over the years I learned to go through the intricacies of corporate world and be successful. Having said that, I believe I could be a great help for anyone who maybe interested in “making it” at big corporations.

Happily Married

Finally, I’m happily married to my wife of 24 years (that’s a quarter of lifetime!) There are ups and downs in our marriage but none came close to be severe enough to end our marriage. My wife and I learned to enjoy each other company and we learned to cherish each other. Without these commitments we would not have lasted so long and have 3 young adult children.

Enough of my self-proclaimed successes. Now let’s put my experience to work by helping other. As I continue to investigate how to “sell my service”, do keep a look out as I provide more tips on how to enjoy life (after all, that’s what my blog is about!) If you are interested in being my first client or if you need anything on the subjects that I noted above, please do let me know.

Let’s the journey begin!

Vicious Cycle of Modern Day Lives

Yes, this blog is about enjoying work and life. You can’t have one and not the other. That’s when one would either stressed out (being hating work) or failed to achieve one’s potential (being enjoyed life while ignoring everything else). Finding the perfect balance is easier said than done.

Today’s blog is about neither. It is about how everyone of us are trapped in a vicious cycle of trying to achieve something that the society expects us to do. For example, everyone in the modern day is expected to go to school, learn life skills, start working , get a career, build a life, etc. At the end of our life-cycle, we are expected to pass on our knowledge to our future generation. And the cycle begins again.

This is not so bad if there are no hurdles or life-events along the way. But God always have different plans for everyone. There is always unforeseen events that may appear and stop the plans half-way. For example, while one is doing find and having a successful career may find himself out of job and living on the street.

Well, today’s blog is going to discuss why are we all in this predicament, and is there anyway we can get out of this vicious cycle. I’ve pondered this question for years and I come to the conclusion that I could not get out of the cycle unless I decided to drop everything in front of me and live in a forest and live off the land.

Let’s build the case shall we by asking several questions.

Why do we exist

We exist today because God has plans for everyone of us, big or small. However, God does not tell us what He has plan for us. We just have to figure it out ourselves. But the problem is when we were born, we are just one of the helpless creatures with no capability of defending ourselves. We go through years of learning and training before we are even capable of being independent. We exist to be part of a larger community so we can give back to the community for years to come. So should we be selfish and say the hell with it and just do whatever we want? The answer is unfortunately no. We will continue to stick to the plan (unwritten plan) and hopefully we are on the right plan.

Why do we do what we are told

Early on we’ve already been told that we should do this and that. If we don’t we will fail in life. To a certain extent this is true because everything has already been dictated by society. For example, if a 6 year old child says he wants to be a fireman when he grows up, he cannot just wear the fire proof and jump in a building that is in fire and hope to put out the fire. No, the child has to learn all the necessary skills and when he becomes an adult will have to take all the training and exams and hope one day he will become a fireman. But what if the child decides to step out of line when he was 12 and did something different? Using my personal experience as an example, I knew that when I was in high school I want to be in the business world, but I don’t know how. But to get there I learned that I MUST get good grades, go to college, obtain certain skills, apply for jobs, go to interviews and hope that I get that job. Now after 25 years, I continue to follow the unwritten route and hope that one day I’m well off to retire. What if I decided that I don’t want to follow the plan anymore? My whole life-being, including my children’s will collapse. So the conclusion is I don’t have a choice.

What about the haves and haves not

When we start to become independent of our parents, we were already exposed to how the society works in terms of livelihood. For us to be able to get what we want in life, it will cost money. To get the money, we need to earn it. And to earn it, we need to use a third of our lives in it. Take for an example of buying a car. When I was in grade school I already wanted a car of my own. Unfortunately I learned that the car is not like a toy and costs a lot of money. When I became an adult, I soon realized that to get the money to buy the car, I need to get a job. However, at the same time I found out that what I make is not what I earn, and that means that it is much harder to buy the car. Not only that I need to pay the government and everyone in between of my hard earned money in order to get the car I wanted. The another question arise out of this dilemma – do I really need the car? The short answer is no, but society tells us we do because it bring us convenience and freedom to do what we want. So we fall back into the same cycle with no way of getting out.

As I noted earlier, the only way for us not to participate in this cycle is live in a forest and go off grid. If we live off land where no one (in this case society) can reach us, then we won’t be influenced by all the rules, systems and programs. We could be free from all the hassle and stress of the modern day lives. Unfortunately, reality hits us like a rock. Homo sapiens are creatures who seek convenience, even cavemen invented wheel and discovered fire that staying status quo would never work.

At the end is it really that bad to be in the vicious cycle? Personally I have given it a lot of thoughts and realize that if we manage our expectations and be happy with what we have following the cycle is really not that bad.

Let me know your thoughts!