Transform Distress into De-Stress

Transform Distress into De-Stress

Don't cry because it is over, think and smile because it happened.  World HR Trainer.

Throughout history new technologies have revolutionized communication and the spread of information. Cyberspace has become the fifth domain of warfare after Land, Sea, Air and Space. Thanks to technology, even the UN Internal Justice System has sought to employ cyberspace and has created an atmosphere of honesty, transparency and accountability, howsoever unreal that may turn out to be in the final test.

Has this improved technology enhanced human understanding, mutual respect, concern and compassion? The answer could be different in different circumstances and for different individuals. Despite the positive impact of the technological advances, there are disappointments, or even stressful tragedies,  in its the ability to adversely affect our normal and professional lives.

For the writer, one such recent "stressful" event was the oral hearing before the UN Appeals Tribunal on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 afternoon between 1500 and 1620 hrs NY local time, at Conference Room # 10 in the North Lawn Building, UN HQ NY. As we assembled to put forth our common cause appeal on behalf of the UN retirees, the three judges panel walked into the venue judicially attired, but  the setting looked like it was going to be just another formality for the sake of so called transparency and independence of this august body. So, the whole episode of public hearing, including its rituals and protocol, was completed in about 80 minutes, with Respondents were let free without any obligation to respond to several questions raised by the appellants. Even when the appellants raised their hands to remind the chief judge of this requirement, this went un-recognised, and the panel of judges abruptly rose and closed the hearing. The fact that things could come to such a pass in an august body known as custodian of human rights and rule of law was something of a testament of reality, shocking, unexpected and totally unacceptable.

This situation threw the writer off balance for a while. Nonetheless, something came to my rescue.

What I have learnt over the years, from work and at home: the key factor for any kind of "distress" is lack of coherence between expectation and experience, and our inability, at times, to keep this coherence at an accepted level. I had learnt that expectation and the actual experience of every incident can come only in four types of results and experience levels:

  1. Get what we expected;
  2. More than what we expected;
  3. Less than what we expected; and
  4. Quite the opposite.

Though we realize that we have no control over the results, we tend to forget that we can certainly have control over our reactions to and acceptance of the results. This is an important lesson not to forget. This ability is just a learned behaviour and therefore we can train our mental system in an appropriate manner.

Let me share with the readers some of the proven "de-stressing" techniques, (gathered from experience and from other sources), easy to remember and easy to practice.

Some Useful De-Stressing Techniques:

REFER TO THESE 25 De-Stressing Techniques as "EMERGENCY USE ONLY" on those days you find extra challenging or stressful. Select just one item from the list and try it.

  1. Continue to remind yourself that this day will pass and tomorrow is a new day.
  2. Be realistic about your expectations. Reduce your disappointment factor.
  3. Appreciate yourself. Think about all the positive things you are able to accomplish each day.
  4. Just smile! The simple act of smiling makes you feel better automatically.
  5. Share your stressful day or event with a colleague, friend or family member.
  6. Breathe to the power of  TEN. Take a deep breath to the count of  TEN. Exhale the same way. Repeat several times.
  7. Find something humorous (movie, comic strip, etc.) and laugh. Laughter helps you relax physically and psychologically.
  8. Treat yourself to a favourite food.
  9. Find something positive in your life to totally focus on for 15 minutes.
  10. Decrease stress by learning to talk to yourself in a reassuring way.
  11. Sit in total silence for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and visualize yourself in another environment. (beach, sailing, cruise ship, etc.)
  12. Remind yourself that even when you have no control over certain situations, your reaction and attitude are always within your control. It's our attitude that shapes our experiences.
  13. See problems and stressful events as opportunities. Problem solved and we grow from them.
  14. Try acting or responding in a way that is the exact opposite of your usual behaviour.
  15. Practice "pace not race." Do everything (walk, talk, etc.) at a more relaxed tempo.
  16. Analyze your stresses and frustrations. Know what most affects you and try to avoid them.
  17. Develop a list of things that make you happy. Read it to yourself several times.
  18. Don't hold your mistakes against yourself. Focus on what you're doing right. Start fresh and let them go.
  19. Change your routine for the rest of the day or the next day.
  20. Spend 15 minutes listening to classical or other soothing music.
  21. Practice acceptance. Ask yourself what stresses you have the power to change. Those you cannot you must accept.
  22. Spend some time with a person or people who make you feel good about yourself.
  23. Be "temporarily selfish." Reserve a little more time just for you.
  24. Find a hidden treasure in your day. Search for one positive thing that you may have never noticed before.
  25. Replace "I have to" statements with "I choose to" statements. It will relieve pressure and give you a whole new perspective.

Now that I am relaxed, I have already been able to determine what could be my appropriate and proportionate reaction to the events mentioned above.

One such response should be at least to bring this state-of-affairs as witnessed by us, the appellants, of the UN internal justice system to the public notice through this small story – so hopefully things may change for the better tomorrow.

V. Muthuswami, Chennai, India
Joint Appellant of the Common Cause Appeal # UNAT 2009-001.

Copyright © 2010 • UN Post • All Rights Reserved

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"Nothing is good nor bad, but thinking makes it so" hamlet, shakesphere. the only reaction to stress is meditation; clearing the cluttered monkey administered mind.