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Topic of the Month

Stress

There are many different definitions of stress. One of the most useful definitions of stress is as follows: Stress is an internal process that occurs when a person is faced with a demand that is perceived to exceed the resources available to effectively respond to it, and where failure to effectively deal with the demand has important undesirable consequences. In other words, stress is experienced when there is an awareness of a substantial imbalance between demand and capability, under conditions where failure to meet the demand is perceived to have unwanted consequences.

Related Concepts :

Perception and awareness of the imbalance between demand and capability and the negative consequences of not meeting the demand is needed in order for the person to experience stress. The perception does not have to be accurate, however. A false belief can cause significant stress.
Stressors are the events and thoughts that lead the person to perceive that a threatening demand is being made. Strain is the negative effect of stress. Strain may appear as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, medical and physical problems, insomnia, depression, anxiety, over eating, drug and alcohol abuse, risk taking, or diminished functioning, to name a few of the possibilities.
Stress can be positive and negative. On the positive side it alerts us to a threat and increases our level of arousal and activation which can help us be more effective in coping with the threat. It is mismanaged stress or an over-abundance of stress which causes strain and can be devastating for the person or the system.

The Body’s Stress Response :

When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

Teen Stress:

As one example of stress related to a life transition, the teen years often bring about an increase in perceived stress as young adults learn to cope with increasing demands and pressures. Studies have shown that excessive stress during the teen years can have a negative impact upon both physical and mental health later in life. For example, teen stress is a risk factor for the development of depression.

Fortunately, effective stress-management strategies can diminish the ill effects of stress. The presence of intact and strong social support networks among friends, family, and religious or other group affiliations can help reduce the subjective experience of stress during the teen years. Recognition of the problem and helping teens to develop stress-management skills can also be valuable preventive measures. In severe cases, a physician or other health care provider can recommend treatments or counseling that can reduce the long-term risks of teen stress.



Stress Management :

There is no absolute right way to manage stress. The best approach is to assess the specific situation, tailor the method to the particulars of the situation, and then monitor its effectiveness. Stress management is directed at one or more of the five interacting components involved in the stress process: 1) demand, 2) awareness, 3) arousal, 4) capability, and 5) the negative consequences.

Here are some examples:

Identify and lessen the demands or increase capability by setting limits, i.e. saying "no", and by not taking on additional responsibilities before the existing ones are met or under control. Get more time or get extra help, or increase your effectiveness by utilizing better tools or by acquiring additional training.

Awareness, perception or the cognitive component, is likely the most important aspect. We need to be aware of all of the relevant issues concerning the demands, our capabilities, resources, and the potential consequences. We need to see these things accurately and clearly and plan accordingly. Our beliefs will determine how we handle the issues and how we feel. We could cause ourselves unnecessary stress by having false beliefs, or by being catastrophic in our thinking and believing something is awful or terrible when it is only difficult or unpleasant. We could also put ourselves in danger by having false beliefs, by using denial and avoidance and by not being aware of or perceiving a real threat.

Do something to reduce the arousal and tension and lower the level of activation. Take a break and stop thinking about the demands and consequences, relax and refocus on pleasant events. Work off the extra tension by exercising or participating in recreation and play. Get a massage, or take a vacation. The use of chemical and drugs should be avoided or used only as a temporary last resort, because something needs to be changed not just tolerated. Herbal supplements are safe and effective.

Eliminate or lessen the effect of the negative consequences by preparing for them, changing the circumstances, or changing your thinking. Examples include putting money in an emergency savings account, buying insurance, changing jobs, crime prevention, earthquake preparedness, accepting what can't be changed and refocusing your thinking and energy into the what can be done to overcome the negative and make things better. Professional treatment can help minimize or eliminate any physical or psychological problems that have developed because of the stress.

Everyone experiences stress and is vulnerable to it. We do not, however, have to be helpless victims to it. We can manage it, reduce and control it, and can minimize or prevent the negative consequences.

Stress can be Harmful to Your Health :

Inappropriately handled stress can be devastating. It lowers our resistance and makes us more vulnerable to illness and disease. The increased inner pressure can cause our health to deteriorate resulting in a variety of serious physical problems. Stress victims can become emotional cripples and physiologically old and run down long before their time. Stress can cause a loss of not only health, but also loss of jobs, loss of families, even loss of life.

Stress can be Harmful to Others

People under stress also make more mistakes, and these mistakes can cause others to be secondary victims to someone else’s stress. I would not want to have surgery by a stressed surgeon or be cared for by a stressed nursing staff. Nor would I want to be a passenger on a plane maintained by a stressed maintenance crew or flown by a stressed pilot.

Common Symptoms and causes of Stress :

Symptoms:

The body and the mind react to any stress factor. A large number of physical changes take place when a person is under stress. The brain and nervous system become intensely active, the pupils of the eye dilate, digestion slows down, muscles become tense, the heart starts pumping blood harder and faster, blood pressure increases, breathing becomes faster, hormones such as adrenaline are released into the system along with glucose from the liver, and sweating starts. All these changes take place in a split second under the direction of the nervous system. If the stress factors are removed immediately, no harm occurs and all the changes are reversed. Stress in its earlier and reversible stage leads to poor sleep, bad temper, continual grumbling, domestic conflict, repeated minor sickness, accident proneness, a feeling of frustration, and increase in alcoholic intake.

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms

Cognitive Symptoms

Emotional Symptoms

  • Memory problems

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Poor judgment

  • Seeing only the negative

  • Anxious or racing thoughts

  • Constant worrying

  • Moodiness

  • Irritability or short temper

  • Agitation, inability to relax

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Sense of loneliness and isolation

  • Depression or general unhappiness

Physical Symptoms

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Aches and pains

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Nausea, dizziness

  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat

  • Loss of sex drive

  • Frequent colds

  • Eating more or less

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Isolating yourself from others

  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities

  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax

  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Causes:

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship.However, anything that puts high demands on you or forces you to adjust can be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or receiving a promotion. What causes stress depends, at least in part, on your perception of it. Something that's stressful to you may not faze someone else; they may even enjoy it.

Stress may be caused by variety of factors both outside the body and within. External factors include loud noises, blinding lights, extreme heat or cold, X Rays and other forms of radiation, drugs, chemicals, bacterial and various toxic substances, pain and inadequate nutrition. The factors from within the body include hate, envy, fear or jealousy. 

Common external causes of stress :  Common internal causes of stress: 
Major life changes Inability to accept uncertainty
Work Pessimism
Relationship difficulties Negative self-talk
Financial problems Unrealistic expectations
Children and family Perfectionism & lack of assertiveness


Tips to remain happy and stress free :

Stress has become the cause of many illness in modern times. Both physical and mental health are interconnected. So to remain healthy, one has to be both physically and mentally fit. Happiness is an outstanding characteristics of mental well being.....................Click here for more in details


Herbs that are useful in Stress:

Ashwagandha (Whithania somnifera):

Ashwagandha has many significant benefits, but is best known for its powerful adaptogenic properties, meaning that it helps mind and body adapt better to stress. It nourishes the nerves and improves nerve function to help you maintain calm during stressful situations. It is also good for people who do physical labor or exercise a lot, to help the body adapt to physical stress. It nourishes all the bodily tissues (Dhatus), including the joints and nerves.

It is also a powerful Madhya Rasayana, which means that it enhances all three aspects of mind power (Dhi -- comprehension; Dhriti -- memory; and Smriti -- recollection).

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Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi):

Jatamansi is nervine, tonic, sedative to the spinal cord, antiseptic, appetiser, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant and vermifuge. It is useful in stress, high blood pressure, diabetes insipidus, digestive and respiratory disorders, heart palpitations, cardio vascular disorders, dysmenorrhoea, cough, cold, bronchitis, jaundice, constipation, flatulence, parasites (especially thread worms), general debility, impotency, poisoning and liver disorders.
It is a prominent and very effective herb for psychological, nervous and convulsive disorders. It is very nourishing and strengthening to the nervous system and the mind.




Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri): 

Brahmi is nervine, rasayana, alterative, febrifuge and cardiac tonic. It is considered one of the best rejuvenatives for the brain, strenghtening the nerves and brain cells. It is excellent for promoting strength of memory and mental faculties. The leaves and whole plant are used in various nervine and psychological disorders. They are also useful for students or those who engage in mental activities. Taken as a milk decoction brahmi is an excellent tonic for the nerves.

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Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum): 

The leaves of holy basil have been found beneficial in treatment of stress. They are regarded as an anti-stress agent. Recent studies have shown that the leaves protect against stress significantly. It has been suggested that even healthy persons should chew twelve basil leaves twice a day, in morning and evening, for preventing stress.

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Shankshpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis): 

Shankhpushpi controls the production of body’s stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, thus it has reducing effect on stress and anxiety. The herb is also used in the treatment of disorders like hypotension, hypertension, etc. It has soothing action on the nervous system so it is used as a tranquilizer for anxiety neurosis and sleeplessness. Due to its memory enhancing property, it is useful to treat neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
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Dietary considerations and Lifestyle:

In dealing with stress, the lifestyle of the patient needs a complete overhaul. He should be placed in an optimum diet, and be encouraged to take regular exercise and adequate rest. If this is done, many diseases caused by stress can be eliminated. Diet plays an important role in the prevention and healing of stress included diseases.

Foods to eat:

Whole grains promote the production of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which increases your sense of well-being. Green, yellow, and orange vegetables are all rich in minerals, vitamins, and phyto-chemicals, which boost immune response and protect against disease.
There are many foods, which help in meeting the demands of stress and should be taken regularly by the patients. These include yoghurt, blackstrap molasses, seeds and sprouts. Yoghurt is rich in vitamins A, D, and the B complex group. Seeds such as alfalfa, sunflower, pumpkins and sprouts are rich in calcium and quite effective as deterrents of listlessness and anxiety.   

Foods to avoid:

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, Coke, etc. It causes the release of adrenaline, thus increasing the level of stress. Many people use cigarettes as a coping mechanism. In the short term, smoking seems to relieve stress. But in the long term smoking is very harmful. Its disadvantages far outweigh its short-term benefits. Sugar has no essential nutrients. It provides a short-term boost of energy through the body, resulting possibly in the exhaustion of the adrenal glands. This can result in irritability, poor concentration, and depression. Salt increases the blood pressure, deplete adrenal glands, and causes emotional instability. Use a salt substitute that has potassium rather than sodium. Avoid junk foods high in salt such as bacon, ham, pickles, sausage, etc. Reduce animal foods. High-protein foods elevate brain levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, both of which are associated with higher levels of anxiety and stress.
   

Other measures:

Regular light physical exercises and Yoga plays an important role to fight stress. It not only keeps the body physically and mentally fit, but also provides recreation and mental relaxation. Recreation and rest are also important. The patient should set a definite time for recreational activities, and should take a holiday at regular intervals. Above all he should simplify his lifestyle to eliminate unnecessary stress.
   

Yoga exercises to relief stress:


Ayurvedic Supplements :

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Ashwagandha Capsules
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Brahmi Bati (With Gold)
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Calming Tea
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