The one biggest piece of advice I can give you is to get into the habit of treating yourself when you feel stressed out! We often forget ourselves in our busy routines, and this is your body’s way of saying that it needs care and pampering too!

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Everyone has days or moments in their day when they just want to throw their hands up and just stop everything because life’s getting a tad too stressful. Or you are so mentally burdened it’s time to force relaxation. Either way, the usual tips given – to eat healthy, sleep enough, exercise regularly, meditate, and take time out for yourself – can all start to seem like a chore when you’ve reached your breaking point.

Either way, give yourself at least an hour or to relax and calm down. Over the years, I’ve come up with my own toolbox of things I can do to give myself an enforced time-out. Everyone’s toolbox will be a bit different, as it depends on what you consider work and play – for example, walking doesn’t help me clear my head so I don’t do it!


The following Top 10 quick pick-me-ups are quite helpful stress busters. Make your own Top 10 activities toolbox that can be your go-to whenever the next stress bomb hits too!

1) Take a Hot Shower

Other people walk to clear their heads, I shower. There is something about standing under a hot jet stream of water that dissolves all my stress. I’ve had days when I take 3-4 showers a day just to wipe my mind blank!

2) Take a Nap

I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Especially when I’m trying to write a 5000 word essay the night before my assignments due (procrastination queen) or after big fights or particularly bad depressive episodes. As long as you’re not an insomniac, and even if you’ve had enough sleep during the night, just turn the lights off, snuggle under your covers, and close your eyes. I find these naps refreshing and the pressures of the day don’t look so scary when I  open my eyes again.

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3) Get a Haircut

I’ve mentioned this in yesterday’s post as well, but going and getting a haircut or highlights  is a great stress buster. You can’t do this activity too often as it can become a very expensive endeavor (plus you only have a certain amount of hair to play with), but I’ve been known to use this method about 2 to 3 times a year.

4) Do a Color-by-Numbers

The mechanical and rote action involved in coloring needs your full attention and it stops you from thinking about other things. I see it as a form of active meditation. I learned to do this from my friend in Chicago. We’d have coloring parties when the tension of being grad students was crushing us!

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5) Watch a Movie

I go to the cinema (or nearby discount theater) to watch my movies but you can just as easily watch them at home too! Just make sure it’s not a heavy and serious film. I get wrapped up in watching and it takes my mind off….well, me. Sappy tearjerkers are a bonus.

6) Get a Face Massage

Massage-lovers will love this one! Any kind of massage is good because they are such a treat, but I’ve found that the following areas often feel the best when I’m particularly stressed out: face, head, arms, and hands. Do it yourself, find a professional, or teach your spouse/partner!

7) Do a Jigsaw Puzzle

For jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts like myself, I’d definitely recommend this method of relieving stress. I have one or two easy puzzles in my house that I love to make when I’m stressed. I made sure they’re small enough that I can complete them in one sitting (my beach puzzle is 500 pieces and takes me 2 hours flat to complete). I never choose a puzzle I’ve never done before, it’s in the ‘familiar’ that relief and comfort lies. Again, it has to do with making the movement as rote and mechanical as possible to produce the effects of meditation. If I’m still not completely de-stressed by the time I finish, it’s not uncommon for me to disassemble the puzzle and start over again. Sometimes I’ll feel better even if the puzzle’s not complete, and I just put it back into the box ready for another ‘rainy day’.

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8) Have a Cry

Again, I’ve used this therapeutic tactic for as long as I can remember. When things get overwhelming, just have a cry and you tend to feel better afterwards. If you’re having trouble crying to the point of relief, can I suggest looking at your red, blotchy face in the mirror – it’s bound to bring on a fresh wave of tears!

9) Eat a Take-Away Meal

Delivery doesn’t do it for me because it involves interacting with the delivery guy/gal too long. Instead, I walk to a nearby restaurant that serves yummy food, order, pay, get some other nibbles at the corner grocery store, pick up the food, and head straight home. You don’t have to worry about cooking, and eating great food can be your treat for feeling so stressed.

10) Text your Friends

Sometimes it’s nice to talk to friends and partners face to face too (they are natural pick-me-ups), but that can seem like too much work at times. Sometimes you just want to scream or punch a pillow and aren’t ready to talk about it yet. A simple, one-sided text full of frustration and angst is enough to make me feel better. Even if they don’t reply for a few hours, just sending it seems to soften the ball of stress within me. I have a handful of friends who I will write to, at any time of day or night (and always out of the blue), with a short burst of “I’m going crazy!” or “why is life so hard :'(” or something similar. They have come to expect it from time to time, and send their own versions of similar outbursts when they are feeling overwhelmed as well. There is no need for explanation. If you don’t do this already, get into the habit! And honestly – that’s what friends are for!

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To celebrate my birthday and the start of a new year for me, I decided to get my hair chopped off into a small buzz on June 1st, 2015. Because my birthday is roundabout halfway through the year, I thought it would be a good time for new beginnings. Hair is a huge part of my identity, and I felt incomplete the way I was.

I’ve wanted to shave my head once (and be bald) to see how it feels at least once in my life. The thought has been with me for over a decade. I never had the strength to take the plunge because my parents and brother were dead set against it…until now.

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Growing up as I did, having dark, thick, lush hair is a sign of health and beauty among Indians (the anthropology of hair – I’ve even written a thesis on it!). Cutting off one’s hair deliberately is done when grieving the loss of a parent, child, or spouse. This why some Hindu widows are seen with shaved heads, mourning for the rest of their lives. And individuals who join the ascetic order shave or pluck (in Jainism) their hair as well to show their renunciation of the worldly life and its associated attachments. It was also mentioned that it would be insensitive for me to be walking around in the UK looking like a Skinhead – believed to be the South Asian-hating British equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan (this is not a fair and whole picture of Skinhead members, but the stereotype). And in a more mainstream point of view, having no hair is obviously also linked to cancer patients and the side effects of chemotherapy. For all these reasons, I couldn’t go against my family and get the haircut I always wanted.

So, understandably, the fact that I nearly shaved it all off was not taken all too well by the family when they saw me after my transformation, but they have thankfully come to terms with it. When I had made up my mind to carry through with my plan a few days in advance, I had tried to prepare my grandparents and family members as best I could to minimize the shock factor. But my reasons for taking the plunge are unrelated to the reasons given by my family…and no less important.

I got my first professional haircut when I was in high school I think. Until then, my dad – who liked me with long hair – had always been in charge of trimming my hair. Going with my friends for my first haircut was a thrill and gave me a strong sense of liberation. My hair was still long, but it was nice to have it styled. It wasn’t long after that I convinced my mom to take me to get brownish highlights. I don’t think she realized what I had done until she saw my locks bleached and had a mini-shock. I don’t think my dad was best pleased either.

Anyway, not too many years later, I started cutting my hair shorter and shorter. From below my shoulders to shoulder to a long bob etc… Every time I’d cut it, I’d wait for it to grow out for about a year before cutting it short again. The same goes for my highlighting experiments every year or so.

Getting a haircut is something of a stress buster for me though. If I’ve been particularly sad and stressed, I’m known to get up one morning, get dressed up, and head to any local hairdressers willing to give me highlights or a cut. Doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday, snowing outside, or a day when I knew I’d have to be in the library studying all night. I guess that’s the power of hair and a makeover. It’s an instant pick-me-up. So my family is used to seeing my medium length pixie cuts since I was in Chicago.


The decision to buzz my hair had multiple reasons. But first, these are the reasons I opted for the short buzz instead of my much-wanted shaved look:

  • I thought my scalp would be too itchy and hard to manage if I shaved my head
  • I didn’t know if the shape of my skull was pretty enough for me to feel confident (as opposed to embarrassed) about shaving it
  • My grandfather was ill at the time and I didn’t want everyone to misunderstand my shaved head as a sign of impending grief.
  • I didn’t want my hair growth to be in the ‘awkward and spiky’ phase when I attending my cousin’s wedding in 6 months.

Why I finally decided to get buzzed!:

1. I find this celebrity hairstyle to be bold, beautiful, attractive, and sexy.

2. I think going against the cultural norm is empowering for women and a major confidence boost.

3. It shows I don’t care what others think about me and that I’m comfortable in my own skin…being me.

4. I don’t have extra pressure (spouse or in-laws) stopping me from doing something I’ve really wanted to do for as long as I can remember.

5. I have never seen a picture of a female buzz I haven’t instantly loved.

6. I was always jealous of all my male friends who had short spiky fuzzball scalps and I wanted one myself!

7. I love having short hair but hate the feeling of hair falling into my eyes and face, and tickling the back of my neck, so this would be perfect!

8. If I can go through with this, I can do anything!

And the last 2 points are more philosophical and probably the most important:

9. I wanted 2015 to be a milestone year for me which would shed the negativity, hardships, and depression I had endured for the preceding 10 years with hopes of happiness, fearlessness, and contentment for the next decade. I wanted to replace my old skin with the brand new me!

10. Because Indian hair grows an average of 1cm per month, I wanted only the newest memories created in 2015 to grace my head, so to speak. So buzzing my hair to 2 to 4cms meant I could do that to some extent. I wanted to detach myself from the old pains and not have them burden me in my new quest.