Here are some ways you can manage your stress


POSTED: Saturday, May 02, 2009

Mental stress can be caused by the anticipation of unwanted events. Worry, anxiety and fear are states of mental apprehension. The disaster has not come, yet its apprehension causes mental stress.





        Hinduism's ancient methods for overcoming stress will be the theme of free weekly talks by Swami Bhaskarananda beginning next weekend.

The leader of the Vedanta Society of Western Washington, Bhaskarananda travels in the United States and Europe to lecture on Hinduism. He is the author of several books, including “;The Essentials of Hinduism”; and “;Journey from Many to One.”;


“;The Way to Fearlessness and Freedom”; lectures, sponsored by the Vedanta Society of Hawaii, will be at the YWCA at 1040 Richards St.


» May 10, 11:30 a.m. Room 309


» May 17, 11:30 a.m., Room 309


» May 24, noon, Room 312


» May 31, 11:30 a.m., Room 309




When disaster strikes, the fears, anxieties and worries are gone. Now we are only busy trying to survive the disaster we are in. Even in this changed situation, new fears in anticipation of the condition getting worse can come and cause stress.

To manage this kind of stress, it helps to assess the worst that can happen and then prepare for it. In reality most anticipated events never take place. Yet, knowing the worst that can happen and being prepared for it can greatly reduce stress.

Mental stress also can be overcome through positive comparisons. Comparisons can cause either happiness or unhappiness. The kind of comparison that causes unhappiness may be called negative comparison. The kind that causes happiness may be called positive comparison, which can help us in getting rid of psychological stress.

One gentleman had the habit of feeling miserable most of the time. His miserable feelings were largely caused by negative comparisons. He compared his condition with that of people who were luckier to have more money, larger homes, gifted children, higher social position, etc. He felt so miserable and depressed that he would often speak of death. But once he had to go to see a patient in a hospital. There he saw several young people paralyzed for life from various sports-related accidents. This experience opened the eyes of that gentleman. Through positive comparison he suddenly realized how lucky he was. He was able to shake off his miserable feelings.

A wonderful example of overcoming stress through positive comparison we find in the life of Helen Keller (1880-1968), who became blind and deaf when she was only 19 months old. But her physical handicap did not stand in the way of her becoming a role model for millions all over the world.

She once said, “;Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.”; This is what I call positive comparison.


Swami Bhaskarananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, is head of the Vedanta Society of Western Washington in Seattle and spiritual adviser to the Vedanta Society in Hawaii.