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Stress Cannot Be Avoided, But Can Easily Be Managed. Here’s How

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Does stress take up most of your day? If it does, know that you’re not alone. No matter who you are, where you live, or what type of work you do, there’s a good chance that stress is a regular part of your life. To some extent, stress can help you stay motivated and focussed on achieving your goal. But when stress becomes long-standing and intense, it can cause you to feel overwhelmed — and can even interfere with your functioning and performance.

While you may not be able to avoid the experience of stress, you can engage in certain activities that might help you build resilience and better manage stressful situations.

Here’s what we recommend you to do:

Take A Break

Focussing on a problem for too long without moving forward can disrupt productivity. When you feel like things are too much to handle, do something that will take your mind off of your troubles. Meditate, read a book, listen to music or simply drink a warm beverage to soothe your mind. It may seem difficult, but when you allow yourself to move your mind away from your stressors, you can give yourself a much-needed break.

When there’s a lot on your mind, focussing on the present moment can be difficult.

Use Positive Self-Statements 

During hard times, go a little easy on yourself. No one is perfect or built to withstand extreme pressure constantly. Remind yourself that you are doing your best — and that’s what’s important. Whenever you notice yourself becoming irritated, ashamed or angry, repeat positive statements to yourself. You can say something like, “I can get through this,” or “Things will get better,” or “I am capable and calm”.

Remember That It Is Okay To Make Mistakes

Trying to be perfect or being afraid of making mistakes can make you feel anxious and on edge. Mistakes offer a valuable chance to learn and grow. So, rather than trying to avoid making any mistakes, accept that you might make some and that it is okay. Being compassionate towards yourself will make stress easier to deal with.

Smile And Laugh

Did you know that the way the muscles of your face move is linked to the way you think? When you’re stressed, you might frown and your face is likely to tense up. In contrast, when you feel happy and relaxed you may notice your face light up with a smile. This also works the other way around. Research shows that making a conscious effort to smile and laugh can help let go of some of that stress.

Live In The Present

When there’s a lot on your mind, focussing on the present moment can be difficult. But you can start with something small. Use your senses to ground yourself to the present. Notice what you can see, hear, feel and smell around you. You can even focus on your breathing and how each breath flows throughout your body. Negative thoughts may try to invade your mind and that’s okay! Avoid suppressing them; instead, let your thoughts pass without judgment. You can even try out guided meditation and mindfulness audios on self-help apps.

Communicate Better And Maintain Good Boundaries

At times, stress can occur as a result of poor communication or misunderstanding. Improving your communication skills can help you express what you feel and solve the problem in a constructive way. Be careful about the commitments you make, and evaluate whether you can actually live up to them or not — be it with work or household chores. This will help you in setting boundaries and saying ‘No’ when required.

Share More And Ask For Help 

Contrary to popular belief, talking about how you feel doesn’t make you weak. Being able to share your thoughts and feelings with someone who understands you can help you feel more equipped to deal with a problem at hand. Create a safe space for yourself to talk about your concerns with someone you trust — whether that’s connecting with a family member or even a friend on call. Simply sharing your stress can sometimes make it easier to bear.

Get Creative

Creativity can lead to the release of feel-good hormones in the body that can make you feel happier.  Do something you’ve always wanted to do but have been putting off for a while. This could be sketching, painting, meditating or even learning how to cook a new dish. Remember that there are no rules. You don’t have to be perfect at it — simply get started and watch your stress melt away!

Take Good Care Of Yourself

No matter how rushed life gets, make time for yourself — even if it’s through simple things like taking a warm bath or writing in a diary. Make sure to get the basics right — eat healthy food, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and don’t forget to exercise regularly. Even a 15-minute yoga or dance session in the comfort of your room can have positive effects that last for several hours. Avoid unhealthy habits that might get worse in times of stress, like drinking or smoking.

Remember that change takes time and requires patience. You might struggle to stay consistent with these techniques at first and that’s okay! With time, you will notice a difference in the way you think, feel and act.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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