20 July, 2008

Six Super Stress Busters

One would say, the best way to stay stress free is to relax! Well, is it actually so easy to relax when you have deadlines to meet, a family to cater for, expectations to live up to, loans to clear, goals to achieve, children to raise, relationships to fulfill and blah, blah, blah. Where is the time to relax when one is smothered with the burdens of life? Few of us enjoy the luxury of spending quality time with family and friends, pursue our interests and go for that long over-due beach holiday.
Stress often creeps into our lives unnoticed and our mind and body realize it's impact only when it is too late. There are a number of things we can do everyday to fight off the hazards of stress and let relaxation embrace us. You do not need a lot of days or a lot of money to "relax" because relaxation is not a materialistic pleasure but a state of mind and a way of life. I hope you get the hint- staying relaxed is actually something that is entirely in our control.

1. Get adequate sleep and rest: this may not be easy for many of us but one has to squeeze out time for the minimum hours of sleep which our body needs to replenish itself and stay alert. Sleep deprivation can cause chronic fatigue and malaise which eventually effects our efficiency and out-come in the long run. Catching up on lost sleep does not mean taking cat-naps while driving or during boring board meetings! As much as our mind needs rest, our body needs rejuvenation too. Sleep in a cool, darkened room with some incense burning- these will sooth your senses. Think positive thoughts (read daydream) before you actually drift into slumber to ensure pleasant dreams.

2. Do not Skip Meals: eat proper balanced meals at the right intervals and do not skip a meal no matter how busy you are. Relish your food bit by bit and don't just stuff it in and wash it down with a cola. Eating slowly and patiently helps in better food absorption and nourishes your body so that it is better equipped to handle stress.

3. Use your break-time effectively: use your free-time to connect with your near and dear ones. Call up a friend or if possible, meet up for a quick cup of coffee. Socializing and human touch often help alleviating stress as you get to talk about and share your problems. Mail a relative or try social networking websites to find people who share your lifestyle or interests.

4. Work on your inner-self: develop a positive outlook and do not treat an incident or a goal as the be-all and end-all of life. As long as you don't stretch to the other extreme, being a little care-free can actually be good for you. Reserve your energy and concern for important issues in your life and avoid fretting about petty things like what people think of you etc.

5. Exercise: this may sound cliche but is not a cliche for no reason. As much as food and sleep, our body needs a steady supply of blood flow which sets all other organs in motion. Plan your schedule so that you get a few hours of physical movement every week. It may be anything from yoga to swimming. If taking time out seems difficult, consider cycling to work.

6. Pamper yourself: reserve one day a week exclusively for yourself. Spend the day as you like. Watch a movie, eat out, take a spa treatment, go shopping, read your favorite book and just push all your worries aside for a day. Under no circumstances should you carry your work home. Save that time for yourself and your family.

There are no separate ways to lead a stress-free life. The process is infact an amalgam of healthy living, positive thinking and time management. If these three aspects are worked upon as a whole, you can successfully kick the monster called "stress" out of your lives.

Living Each Day With Passion

How many of us can actually claim our everyday lives as being “full of passion”. Surely, most of us have our high moments every now and then but if we look back in retrospect, these moments are just a meager fraction in our mundane existence. Some fortunate ones can derive passion out of work but that’s not something an average person would swear by. Sprinkling a few passionate moments in our lives each day would certainly make it easier and happier, wouldn’t it?
Adding that extra spark in your day is not such an uphill task after all. You just need a little bit of “me” time to do what you “want to”, rather than what you are “supposed to”. It may be writing an occasional poem, playing a sport, watching a tree grow, spending quality time with your dog, having sex, campaigning for a cause you feel strongly about, meeting up with old friends after a long time, drawing inspiration from your surroundings…you get the drift? Different things stimulate different people. While one person may derive pleasure from an intellectual pursuit like reading a good book, another might feel a rush simply by watching a football rerun. Few people need a constant dose of human contact and emotions to get their “feel-good hormones” flowing. With so much responsibilities and a million chores ahead, our “me-time” gets lost somewhere in the rut we live in. you need no grass or alcohol to get you “high”. Just one hour a day of your choice is enough to carry you smiling through the day.
Apart from that, is also imperative that you carry a positive outlook throughout because a crib here and a frown there can severely mar the moment. Once you condition yourself accordingly, it is not difficult to derive immense joy out of small pleasures in life because small pleasures are a luxury not everyone can afford (and I’m not talking about the money here!). Once you learn the art of enjoyment, you will find yourself a happier and content person. Believe it or not, at times a ride on a roller-coaster is far more enjoyable than being gifted a Prada bag! Similarly, digging into candy-floss when you are forty gives you a rush that a glass of champagne may not. See? The best things in life come for free (well, almost!). You don’t need money to be passionate in life. All you need is a positive state of mind and bit of time for yourself.

The Drive to Srinagar...

Kashmir in her late monsoon garb casts her spell with her bewitching beauty right from the journey’s onset. With its regular dose of temples and markets, Jammu gives out no hint about what lies in store ahead. The uphill climb from the foot-hills of Jammu, through the serpentine roads, are a heaven with lush greenery with monkeys prancing and hanging about from trees. It comes as no surprise that this is only the beginning!

Each turn gives way to a whole new scenery and the picturesque surroundings accompany a traveller till he has his fill of pictures. There were beautiful birds, live landslides, quaint little hamlets sitting precariously on a hillside with there thatched mud roves lending an earthy contrast to the leafy green slopes. Slowly and gradually, the forests became sparse and naked rocky cliffs loomed up dangerously as if to challenge anyone who wished to conquer them. On reaching a bridge called “Khooni Nala”, one is filled with awe to find huge metal meshes hanging from the mountainsides to prevent land slides from reaching the bridge. Yet, nature chooses her moments to remind humanity of its haplessness and there had been a huge mishap on the bridge only a couple of hours ago. Relieved that nobody was injured, it was a treat to cool off on coconut slices and a cola from local vendors. The traffic soon cleared off and fresh mountain air embraced us once again. The drive through the Banihal Tunnel is an experience in itself. 2.5 kilometers of pitch darkness and cold winds cutting through the magnificent Pir Panjal range, reminds one of those “Horror Bungalow” experiences from childhood. The light at the end of the tunnel had new surprises to offer- gone were the mountains, the trees and the monkeys. Faced with a landscape as flat as a Greek God’s tummy, you can’t help but wonder if you had left Kashmir behind! There were villages and vast endless paddy fields on either side of the road that ran as straight as a ruler.
A deviation from the highway is marked with a milestone marked “Gulmarg”, “the land of Flowers”. Soon enough, true to its name, the soft slopes of Gulmarg emerged, clothed in tender grass, wild flowers and towering pine trees. The pine-scented air and the mist worked like aromatherapy and rejuvenating to the mind, body and soul.
After three days in Gulmarg, we decided to head for Srinagar- the summer capital of Kashmir. After the serene surroundings of Gulmarg, this bustling city with crowded marketplaces and traffic was a bit of a mood-spoiler. However, the lake, the markets and food more than made up for that. But that’s another story…

Freelancing as a Career : What it Has to Offer

Freelancing, in plain and simple English means –“work whenever you want and however you want!” Imagine the luxury of not having a boss whose sole ambition is to make your life as difficult as possible, not having to wake up to go to office at inhumanly early hours, not having to beg for a leave to go on that long awaited vacation with your family and at the same time being able to handle family, domestic responsibilities and the likes without loosing out on financial independence! Sounds like a dream come true, does’t it? Well, thousands of people around the world live this dream and also make a living out of it and a large fraction of them are freelance writers.

Although freelance writing has not yet gained popularity at par with mainstream journalism, it has definitely grown from writing a couple of hand written articles every now and then to a booming Internet business which is providing opportunities to many people around the world who find it an extremely rewarding and satisfying field to be in.

Today, a plethora of "work from home" opportunities are available for individuals who are talented and dedicated. This profession is extremely beneficial to women in particular who are educated, ambitious but smothered with domestic responsibilities. Expressing their talent through this medium gives them a sense of pride and independence along with expanding their horizons on different topics and subjects. Any individual with an aptitude for language and original thinking can make a living from home and this applies to a lot of physically challenged people who are denied job opportunities in a conventional work environment and even if they are not, they are discriminated and may find it difficult to work efficiently in inhospitable social surroundings.

A freelance writer can adopt any genre of choice- he/she can explore areas in academic writing, creative writing, write lifestyle articles for magazines and newspapers or even specialize in writing for children! Most freelance writers associate themselves with Internet bases companies and organizations who provide them with orders on subjects and topics they are well versed with. The writer then works on the article and submits it before a pre-specified deadline. The customers and administrations response regarding the quality of work is the key element in determining the popularity and success of the writer. Although the rate of professional growth can be sky- rocketing, it can work the other way around too. Any work that lacks originality and structure can send the career graph plummeting to ground level. Therefore, consistency and sincerity are very crucial components in determining success.

Financial returns in this field are totally dependant on individual capabilities, quality of work and the time and dedication put into the same. It can be taken up as a means to earn extra pocket money or as a full time income to support a family. All kinds of professionals can take up freelance writing- students, doctors, businessmen, engineers and anybody you name under the sun.

The flexibility and control a person is entitled to, as a freelancer is unparalleled. It does not require fancy degrees from acclaimed universities or a mentor; all it takes is a flair and passion for writing, command over the language, dedication to meet deadlines and last but not the least- an Internet connection!

In summary, not every one is gifted with creativity and not everyone can befriend a pen (the keyboard in this case!). Creativity is an asset that cannot be taught or acquired; it is inherently bestowed on very few people. Therefore, anyone who believes they can do justice to a literary piece of work assigned to them within a given frame of time should definitely give it a try. Who knows, you might come out with a best seller some day!