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Exercise the mind gym to relieve stress


The other day in class, one of our cross-cultural course participants from Canada asked me if I had any Indian method to share on stress relief.

He was six feet tall and had a tough body, which he had clearly kept in shape by toning it regularly.

Seeing his obvious interest in physical fitness, I decided I would share with him an age-old Indian method for toning the mind.

I had read the points in a book by Berkley professor-turned spiritual teacher, Eknath Easwaran.

Just as we spend a good amount of time on our physical wellbeing and use Dumbbells for muscle strengthening, it is also necessary to do some balanced will strengthening with D BELLS.

This acronym could help us remember six things that will take us towards a reduced stress life. The word is D BELLS.

D – Do be kind

Whenever you have an opportunity to say, do, or even think, choose kindness consciously over the automatic unkind word or deed or even thought that arises in connection with a colleague, a partner or a family member, especially if they are younger in age or lower in status.

Being charitable each time means strengthening your will.

One of my clients recently told me about a team member he usually finds to be lazy and acrimonious. She came to work one day with swollen eyes and he asked if she had been crying. She immediately went on the defensive, saying, “Why would I do that? It’s just that something got into my eyes.”

But my client refused to accept her answer. He repeated the question, and said, “Please don’t hesitate to tell me if there is anything at all I can do for you anytime, I am here to help you.” She broke down and said she was in need of money. He helped her out in a small way and felt good.

But he realised that the feeling was mostly not about the monetary help, but more about the kindness he had managed to show instead of the usual, unkind way he had of brushing her off as a “difficult” person.

Kindness has a two-way effect — it makes the recipient feel good, and it fills the doer with a feeling of well-being, a great stress-buster.

However, it’s hard to practice with a person one doesn’t share a ‘vibe’ with, and that’s where will strengthening comes in.

B – Be patient

This is also hard to do in today’s hurried world. When someone doesn’t get to the point we feel like finishing their sentences for them. When we send out an e-mail request, we want instant action. That’s the time to practice patience. Each instance of patience successfully practiced is equal to a “rep” in will strengthening.

E – Escape need to sound clever at another’s expense

Often we come up with a caustic remark, a repartee, a joke at which our audience may laugh and that makes us sound so clever, but at someone else’s expense — someone who is hurting deep down because of it.

There’s an overwhelming need to escape this tendency at meetings or at the dining table, and to break the habit of simply biting our tongue, thus, strengthening our will to resist boosting our own image by damaging someone else’s.

L – Leave early for work

It could also be for a meeting or an appointment. We all intend to leave early, but something always ‘comes up’.

And that is what we have to prevent. Forcing ourselves to leave just a little earlier needs willpower and disciplined time management, but it pays off, as we find we can get a lot done. Again, an excellent stress buster.

L – Leave work at work when you go home

This is equally hard, if not harder still, especially with the beeping, blinking devices which bind us to our work. Whenever we are able to leave the job and truly go “home”, we can say we have strengthened our will. The other day, I did it for a half day, which I had promised to spend with my mother, and the satisfaction I had was tremendous!

S- Sort out differences harmoniously

When differences come up, as they’re bound to, and voices are raised, our tendency is always to out-shout the other. Or worse, to walk out of the room!

But sorting out differences in a peaceful manner, using a quiet and controlled tone even when the other is ranting, has an amazing effect on strengthening ourselves and eventually wins the other over too. I tried it with a particularly difficult colleague and the sense of power over myself I enjoyed was worth more than the earlier sense of having “won” over the other by having it my way.

So let’s practice D BELLS along with the Dumbbells we lift at the gym, and the fitness of the body will work in tandem with the fitness for the mind.

Ranjini Manian is Founder CEO of Global Adjustments, a relocation and cross-cultural services company. She can be contacted at

This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 2, 2012 – Link to online text

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