As if the world is not stressed enough with constant demands on our time and attention, we also have to contend with people. Pause and think and we will realize nine out of ten times, it’s not the circumstances that cause us undue stress, it’s the people.

If your boss favours your colleague over you, will it not be futile regardless of how hard you work as you know you can never unseat the blue-eyed boy or girl? If your parent favours a certain gender over the other, will it not be saddened for you to learn that you are not the apple of the eye?

Life is never fair, just like how we stretch out our five fingers and realize they can never be of equal length.

Very often, it’s the feeling that we create within us. Many of us worry too much and sweat the really small stuff. Just like all the other perfectionists, we get ourselves ready, aim, then fire. But it is precisely this mindset that we have long been taught that is causing us stress.

Life in this new millennium is not about ready, aim, fire. Rather, it is about ready, fire, aim. Lest you scratch your head and ponder aloud, let me explain.

In our bid to get everything right, while waiting for the right winds to blow in our direction, we fail to notice that some minor shifts in the original situation. That is aiming and aiming. If in the worse situation, our best laid plans go astray, we will still be aiming and aiming. Then when will we ever have the chance to fire? 

Conversely, if we get ourselves ready and fire when our confidence is high enough, we can always readjust the firing direction and aim again thereafter. But that fire shot would have done enough damage to the enemy and knocked him off his pedestal.

I don’t ready, aim, fire as that’s old school. Rather, I ready, fire, aim. Many of us hesitate to take action because we are forever in the aiming stage. And that’s causing us unnecessary stress.

Interestingly, one participant asked me today after the stress management talk at STelcomms (a subsidiary of ST Electronics) if I felt stressed. Well, everyone feels stressed. It’s about how one manages it. Doing different workshops and talks and being able to switch efficiently from one to another involves a delft sense of balance and creativity. So too after learning from my minders that no photographs were allowed in the room. And we could only watch with astonished looks when the HR staff herself went clicking away…What could we do except to smile to ourselves and console ourselves that we have plenty others in the photo vault. And at least we managed to take one before we were told not to...:p

Stressed? What stress?

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It isn’t surprising that more and more people are getting stressed. We live in a society that places a high premium on excellence and efficiency in everything we do. Every service rendered has to be fast. Every transaction has to be accurate. As Singaporeans, this is our greatest strength. But ironically, it is also our greatest weakness. In a society which over-emphasizes excellence and efficiency in everything we do, stress invariably creeps in uninvited.
 
So for the staff of GAC Singapore who took precious time off to attend this two-part series on stress management yesterday and today, it was definitely time well spent.

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From my interactions with the staff on the first day who were based at Alps Avenue, they shared that most of them work overtime. This is not surprising as GAC Singapore provides shipping, cargo and marine services to the shipping industry worldwide. While Singapore sleeps, the rest of the work does not. And vice versa. For the staff on the second day who worked mostly office hours based at Genting Centre, the situation was slightly better.
 
I firmly believe we are our best friend. No one knows our stress levels better than ourselves. And understanding our own stress levels is key to achieving a good work-life balance. When faced with a stressful situation, we often resort to a fight or flight mode. Which one would you choose?

If you choose to fight it, what methods would you deploy? As I jokingly shared with them, ladies would resort to retail therapy to beat their stress…only to be more stressed when they receive their credit card bills the following month following the shopping trips. As for men, when they are stressed, they could eat, smoke or drink more (or worse, do all three!)…resulting in the rise of the belly bulge.

If you choose to be an escapist, then you would need to find refuge somewhere. This works in the short term but many a times, the universe will send your incomplete business back to you. And when it hits you the second time, the impact will always almost be greater than the first aftershock. 

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Life is never a bed of roses. If it were, wouldn’t be too boring and mundane? Everyday would be uneventful and life would be too draggy and painful. We have certainly heard of tales of people who migrate to countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand in search of a better quality of life…but they end up being equally frustrated because of the too slow pace of life. Being too used to the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s city beat, they fail to integrate fully into their new environments.

From my own experiences, what has worked for me to do deep breathing exercises. When we breathe, we take in the breath of life into our body and feel it fill us up. And when we exhale, we dispel the negative thoughts and energies from our body temple. The best thing about deep breathing is that it’s free with no strings attached! The more you do it, the more centred you will feel. In this world where more people are searching for the true art of happiness, perhaps deep breathing is the key to unlock that happiness.
 
And whether or not I take off my shirt to show you my abs (I’m sure many were disappointed I didn’t accede to their request…let’s keep that for a fitness talk ok? LOL), just breathe and enjoy life. To my new found friends these two days – wherever you are, whatever you do; life is too short to sweat over the small stuff.
 
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