Try the A, B, C of stress management with this expert guide

Try the A, B, C of stress management with this expert guide
Courtesy: Vadym Buinov | Moment Via Getty Images

A recent talk at the Gita Bhavan Hindu Temple in Manchester aimed at providing guidance on mental health and how to cope with stress. Aptly titled ‘Stop Struggling, Start Living’, the talk was conducted in two parts by Dr Ankush Singhal, Consultant Psychiatrist in the NHS, and Minesh Vaiwala – author, speaker and personal growth coach.

Dr Singhal’s talk focused on three key aspects – how to identity stress, what causes it and how to manage it.  The importance of being able to deal with stress, Dr Singhal explains, lies in the fact that it is often the first step towards more severe mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, if not dealt with.

Identifying Stress

One of the first things highlighted in the talk is that there is no fixed definition of what stress can look like, and this can often make it hard to know for someone experiencing it.

The many shapes and forms of stress can range from physical symptoms like palpitations, tiredness, loss of energy, loss of appetite or increased appetite to psychological symptoms like loss of interest, getting angry easily, low self-confidence, or difficulty in concentrating in work or studies.


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Causes of Stress

“One of the best ways to understand the causes of stress is to employ a systematic way of understanding our needs,” explains Dr Singhal.

The primary needs of humans include the basic physiological necessities such as food, water a safe place to live. After these come psychological needs, whereby we strive for warm and loving relationships deriving from the innate need to be loved. Next in the hierarchy are success in the workplace, studies and other professional achievements and accomplishments.

Dr Singhal explains that unless the former basic ones are addressed and taken care of, the latter ones cannot be achieved and looking at our needs in this way allows us to determine how to best deal with stress.


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Managing Stress

Dr Singhal provides an ‘A-Z toolkit’ which goes through small but powerful lifestyle changes that could be made to maintain and promote positive mental health changes. Here are a few of the changes he suggests, with the rest in the video above.

  • ‘A’ for Action – “Nothing will change unless you take action to change it,” he notes. However, the advice comes with a word of caution. You It is also important to know that you cannot change everything. You can only control the controllable. For the rest of things, accept them and move on.”

  • ‘B’ for Breathing exercises – According to Dr Singhal, one of the most effective methods for managing anxiety are breathing exercises. Doing them on a daily basis, as well as taking regular breaks during the day and the week are important factors in managing stress. Boredom kills so let’s kill the boredom,” Dr Singhal advises on a light-hearted note. “Catch up friends, play games, or take up a sport once a week. Do something to break the routine. Reboot your system, recharge yourself.”

  • ‘C’ for connections and communication – “Connect with people around you and open yourself up to them,” advises the doctor. Spending time with friends and family and sharing your worries with them is one of the key ways to relieve pent-up stress which could lead to anxiety and depression over time.


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The Power of Thoughts

“You become what you think about most of the time,” says Vaiwala, quoting Earl Nightingale.

Vaiwala, who conducted the latter half of the talk, emphasised on the power thoughts can wield in one’s life.

“Everyone has something in life that they are not happy with whether it be work, health or something else,” he explains.

As a personal coach with years of experience, Vaiwala believes that one of the main culprits of struggles and problems is the negative self-talk we do on a daily basis, often without fully realising we are doing it.

He elaborates that saying things like ‘I’m clumsy’ or ‘how stupid of me’ will eventually programme your brain to start believing in it, which is also why such things should not be said to children.


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Making a conscious effort to half negative self-talk and gradually replacing it with a positive thought pattern will automatically improve your mental health.

“Words can affect behaviour which will affects the actions you take, and that will affect the results, and ultimately your experience. Negative self-talk can have a huge impact. Try to say only positive things to yourself,” says Vaiwala.

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