There are only two days in the year where nothing can be done—one is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. So today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.

Dalai Lama

Stress today, seems to be one of the major contributors to anxiety and intolerance. One of the definitions of ‘stress’ in the Oxford dictionary is: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

Hans Selye who is credited as being the modern day father of stress defined stress in 1936 as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Hans Seyle’s stress definition expanded in 1979 as he explained further, “stress is a ‘perception’. It is the demands that are imposed upon us because there are too many alternatives.”

I believe there are two types of stress—positive and negative.

Positive stress is good. It pushes you forward to get things done, reach higher levels of yourself, adapt to change well. This makes you solution, action-oriented and productive.

Negative stress, on the other hand, paralyses you, doesn’t allow you to take action, overwhelms you, gets you in the mode of worry and anxiety and stuck in ‘what if’, scenarios without actively seeking solutions on the task or issue at hand. It makes you unproductive.

But whether positive or negative, there is still, I believe, an optimum amount of stress each one of us can handle without it affecting our well-being.

One major factor for such high levels of stress is that our lives today seem to have become busier than ever. Most people seem to be rushing against time, running from pillar to post. With demands from work and personal life weighing heavy on them, I frequently hear these statements:

“I have no time for myself.”

“There are only 24 hours in a day.”

“I am losing my cool all the time.”

“I am at my wits end-irritable and angry”.

Sounds familiar? With such high levels of “busy-ness”, we seem to have little control over our speech and actions as “getting things done” seem to be more important than how are we getting things done. We have to ask ourselves, Are we losing our cool? Using angry or harsh words? Getting defensive and irritable? Undercutting each other? There doesn’t seem to be time to think of all this and more.

None of this bodes well for us and the people around us whether professionally or personally.

Mastering our mind, hence, becomes one key factor in dealing with stress. And identifying our personal “stressors” or “triggers” is the first step forward.

It is said that mind is a great servant but a very bad master. You let it get the better of you and you will have no control over your words and behaviours resulting in guilt and regret at the end of the day.

This vicious cycle will continue till you learn to flip the switch and come into the driver’s seat of your life. As William James, an American philosopher and psychologist said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”Depending on what your personal stressors are, productive, healthy solutions can be found to deal with them one at a time. To lead fulfilling lives we need a great work-life balance and learning to deal with our stress healthily is one step in that direction.