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Editorial Articles

Volume-41, Dated 6-12 January, 2018

Stress: The Faceless Demon That Feeds on Human Energy

Sarika Raghuwanshi

Stress is the adoptive response to a situation that can pose a threat or challenge to a person’s well being resulting in a physical,mental and emotional ‘fight’ or ‘flight ‘reaction.
This defensive or the internal offensive reaction for prolonged periods of time causes an eventual deterioration of physical, mental and emotional health.
Everyone feels stressed from time to time and in this competitive world this faceless demon shows presence in all walks of life and in all age groups.
Why does it occur?
When we are stressed our body thinks it is under attack so as a counter attack it releases a complex mix of hormones and chemicals (Adrenaline,Cortisol and norepinephrine) that prepares us for a physical action.
The stressors:
The causes of stress can be any environmental condition that places a physical or emotional demand on a person for example; Job insecurity, No work or overwork, information overload, domestic pressures, family or social demands and the increasing pace of life.
Consequences of stress:
Stress shows itself in a number of ways.When we fail to release stress by coping with life’s situations,it builds up until we either explode or collapse.This can cause specific disorders in both mind and body.
A build up of stress can be diagnosed by physiological symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, increased blood pressure, chest pain digestive problems, eating disorders, insomnia, nausea, fatigue, hair loss etc.
It also causes psychological and behavioural changes such as anger, irritability, low self esteem, panic attacks, mood swings, rapid speech, hostility, impatience resentment, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, cynicism etc.
How to manage stress?
Stress Management is the act of making the ‘avoiding stress and coping with stress response’ mechanism better          for the purpose of improving everyday functioning.It is the ability to maintain control        when situations, people, and events make excessive demands.It is an essential step once we have determined that we are facing stressful situations in our life.
Stress management is discovering how we can avoid stress when possible and cope with the stress we can’t avoid.
Various techniques of stress management:
Any form of physical exercise releases endorphins also called as the mood elevators and are mental pain relievers and antidepressants in the body. Walking,Cycling,running,jogging,swimming etc are good stress busters.
Deep breathing: Breath focus
Just create some room for the lungs to expand down rather than laterally through the expansion of the rib cage.This deep breathing is marked by expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest when breathing. It is generally considered a healthier and fuller way to ingest oxygen,and is often used as a therapy for hyperventilation and stress. During stress and anger we tend to inhale and hold our breath.The exhalation alerts the body that it can relax and resume essential body functions and not remain in a state of fight or flight.
Body Scan:
This blends deep breathing with muscle relaxation.After a few minutes of deep breathing we focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally release any physical tension we feel there.
Self hypnosis: Guided imagery
Find a comfortable place to sit down.Then just close the eyes and try to relax the muscles.Think about soothing scenes,places,experiences in your mind to help relax and focus.It helps to reinforce a positive vision of oneself.
Autogenic training:
Again a relaxation technique where one repeats a set of visualisations and affirmations that induces a state of relaxation. This technique restores the balance between the activity of the sympathetic( fight or flight mode) and the parasympathetic ( rest and digest)branches of the autonomic nervous system that controls our response to a situation .
Develop a hobby:
During one’s leisure time an activity of interest can be taken up to overcome the stress as we need to have a natural outlet since our attention is focused on things that we enjoy rather than focusing it on all of the things that we need to do which are not getting done.
This is a process in which a person attempts to concentrate by focusing on an object or an idea by excluding all the other objects ,thoughts and ideas from the mind.The point of focus can be any chanting mantra or one’s own breath or the holy word like the ‘OM’. This relaxes the mind and body.
Repetitive Prayer:
5 to 20 minutes a day of silently repeating a short prayer or a phrase from a prayer while practising deep breathing can relax the mind and relieve the stress.
Listening to relaxing music soothes our mind and body enabling us to focus better on things that need to be done. It is one of the most effective stress reliever. The body’s production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter which is responsible for a person’s well being)increases when we listen to music.During dental and surgical procedures music reduces the pain and stress.
Yoga Nidra:
It is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping.Mix the sleep and yoga together in a like ‘going to sleep ‘state. Here we are systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions.It instantly reduces acute stress symptoms like anxiety giddiness ,chest pain,palpitations and sweating. Yoga Nidra has been used effectively to help soldiers to cope with post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD)
However troubled we might feel when stress crawls into our life disrupting day to day functioning yet not all stress is bad.There is also a positive side of stress which is called ‘Eustress’.This refers to the stress experience in moderation,enough to activate and motivate people to achieve their goals,change their environments,and succeed in life challenges and help become more productive.
We must always remember that we’re in no way alone in this combat the stress battle so this is not something that cannot be dealt with.
So,Don’t worry ,be happy! And all is well and will be well..Saying these simple lines , sometimes can also do wonders there.
The author is Counsellor and Social worker E-Mail : sarikaraghuwanshi94@gmail.com