By Mitadru Dey
“You need to get out of the house!” is common advice I get when people hear I have not stepped outside since the pandemic started. My friends, family, and colleagues are feeling the stress of restriction on their outdoor activities — but not me. Why?
“You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Why is our stress level so high? The answer lies in the lack of self-sufficiency. Our happiness is attributed to external factors, e.g., spouse, children, boss, colleagues, and even non-living objects like traffic and weather. The world is designed in such a way where external factors are bound to change against your desire. Hence it is important to work on self-development. In pursuit of self-development, I study the philosophy of Vedanta (The Ultimate Knowledge), ancient wisdom written thousands of years ago. Along with other high values, it teaches how one can be happy with the current situation while aspiring for a better life.
Bhagavad Gita is a Vedanta text written 5,000 years ago. It is perhaps the first book which talks about stress management among other eternal values of life.
“I have made the Bhagavad Gita as the main source of my inspiration and guide for the purpose of scientific investigations and formation of my theories.”– Albert Einstein
In the context of this article, I’m going to share with you three yogas. Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means “to unite”. Here yoga is used as a discipline to gain happiness, not physical postures or asanas. These yogas are prescribed in Bhagavad Gita which made me happy by reducing my stress. These three yogas will fortify your overall personality, making you a dynamic professional with a calm mind.
Yoga for Stress Management
1. The Yoga of Knowledge (Jnana Yoga)
First thing in the morning before you look at your messages and news feed, study a book or watch a video which talks about higher values of life. It can be the philosophy of any religion or a motivational book/video. It is important to have a disciplined study. For example, if you have decided to study a book, finish it instead of studying a new book every morning. Early morning is the best time to absorb knowledge, as our brain is fresh. The regular study gives you an optimistic boost to start your day.
2. The Yoga of Action (Karma Yoga)
To continue the momentum in the morning, you need to perform this yoga. Karma yoga inspires you to work for a higher purpose in life. You need to set goals beyond your selfish desires. You may be running a business or working for a company. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of my work? If you are a business person, you may say to maximize profit. If you work for a company, you may say to maximize compensation, a promotion, and have more responsibilities. Gradually shift your purpose to being unselfish. The more selfish you are, the more agitated or stressed you are.
The moment you say my goal is to achieve the goals of my company or keep customers’ interests in mind when maximizing profit, your stress level will go down and your productivity will go up. When your productivity goes up, you will earn more, get your next promotion, and expand your business.
You need to continue the unselfish attitude at home as well. Let’s say your family likes Italian food and you like Thai food. Go along with the choice of your family – genuinely. It’s just one meal, however, the unselfish choice will enhance the emotional connection with your loved ones. That’s priceless. This yoga also emphasizes physical fitness. Set aside 20-30 minutes daily for exercise. In the current situation, you may want to try online fitness classes.
Performing Karma Yoga means performing your action with an attitude of service. Muhammad Ali said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
3. The Yoga of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga)
This yoga instills an attitude of gratitude in you. Ever since you were born, so many animate creatures and inanimate things helped you survive in the world. You are sustained by millions of operations within your body. Every moment, your immune system is fighting with thousands of bacteria and viruses. It takes ten-thousand million calculations within your eye to register a sight. We take all this for granted until some terrible things happen to us.
Your accomplishments in life today were contributed by your parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, etc. Express your gratitude to them. Just saying, “Thank you for what you have done for me” goes a long way to inculcate this attitude of gratitude. Watch a documentary or listen to inspirational music. You will gradually become calm and composed. Just spend 30 to 40 minutes daily doing that.
If you practice these yogas consistently, you will become productive and peaceful. You will deserve happiness not demand it. Like every skill, it takes time and effort to become a master. Once you start practicing these yogas daily, you will see a relatively better version of yourself within six months. Thus, practicing these yogas would reduce dependency on external factors. I encourage you to take the first step tomorrow morning.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
Mitadru is a pro bono career coach who helps early to mid-career professionals (typically with less than 10 years of work experience) achieve their professional goals. He is a tenured Vice President in a top global financial services institution with 16 years of experience managing people and guiding them to success.
He has authored many articles on professional development, few of which have been published on various websites globally. He has also featured on podcasts across US, India, and UK to talk about career management in today’s world.
To access his guidance, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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