What is Stress
The term “stress” is difficult to define and may mean different things to different people in divergent circumstances. The oldest definition is that of Hans Selye who defined stress as the “non-specific (i.e. common) result of any demand on the body, whether the effect be mental or somatic”.
According to latest health reports, Stress is said to be one of the largest killers of man today. Stress is now becoming more accepted as being crucially related to our total health – physical, mental and emotional. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the majority of all physician visits are prompted by stress-related symptoms that are known to cause or worsen medical conditions.
Stress is our response to specific stimuli called “Stress inducers“. Or they are the events that generally produce stress. They may be temporary or chronic, leading to negative health consequences or outcomes changing a person’s life. Although life itself is dependent upon certain forms of stress, it is only when stress is handled poorly by the body or mind that it becomes a health hazard. Stress that is expressed or experienced negatively can be linked to many physical complaints, from headaches and hypertension to symptoms affecting a person’s mental state. Anxiety, depression and feelings of anger, fear, helplessness or hopelessness, and other emotions are often linked to stress.
Two powerful body systems cope with stress. The nervous system controls the rapid body changes, while the endocrine system regulates the longer-term patterns of stress response by releasing hormones into the blood. The adrenal activates the sympathetic nervous system, reducing the normalizing effects of body function. This increases the metabolic rate, heart rate, circulation and blood pressure. In addition, effectiveness of the digestive system is diminished and disturbances in sleep patterns become common.
How stress is created?
Interchangeably used with the word anxiety, stress relates mutually to our social and psychological environment. Major situations like divorce, marriage, retirement, death in the family, pre-natal conditions, a job loss and other emotional upheavals as well as minor hassles like waiting in line for hours, getting struck in a traffic jam, misplacing or losing something, disputes, even daily household chores and competitive examinations in fact any unsettling human experience can sometimes become stressful and play havoc with a person’s health.
In the work place and even at home, stress can test a person’s problem-solving abilities. The demands of everyday living are numerous and if a warning bell is sounding somewhere within you, it’s time you pay heed to it.
Stress alarm – Identify your Stress triggers
What are the warning signals? Are you moving towards a stress burnout? If you have been experiencing the symptoms listed below, over extended periods of time, it’s time you acted – now!
|Can’t cope, can’t concentrate, Feel hopeless, helpless, depressed.|
|Often irritable and angry. Can’t control your temper|
|Eat too much or too little. Eat too many fats, too much salt and sugar|
|Have trouble sleeping. Don’t get enough sleep, or sleep too much and still feel tired|
|Smoking in excess. More than normal intake of alcohol, caffeine or drugs|
|Have frequent headaches, backaches, and stomachaches|
|No time to talk to friends and family|
|Cut back on exercises|
|Family tensions run higher than usual. You and your spouse fight more often|
|Not interested in sex.|
|Always sick lately. Get cough and colds and other viral infections more often than you used to|
|Allergies and skin rashes|
|Disinterested in life, in general|
What are the causes of stress?
Dr. Selye called the causes of stress “stressors” or “triggers.” There are two kinds of stressors: external and internal.
External stressors include:
The Physical environment noise, bright lights, heat, confined spaces.
Social (interaction with people): rudeness, bossiness or aggressiveness on the part of someone else.
Organizational: rules, regulations, “red tape,” deadlines.
Major life events: death of a relative, lost job, promotion, and new baby.
Daily hassles: commuting, misplacing keys, mechanical breakdowns.
Internal stressors include:
Lifestyle choices: caffeine, not enough sleep, overloaded schedule.
Negative Thinking: Pessimism, self-criticism, over-analyzing.
Mind traps: unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating, rigid thinking.
Stressful personality traits: perfectionist, workaholic, pleaser.
It is important to note that most of the stress that most of us have is actually self-generated. This is a paradox because so many people think of external stressors when they are upset (it is the weather, the boss, the children, the spouse, the stock market). Recognizing that we create most of our own upsets, however, is an important first step to dealing with them.
The most important thing is, to be able to monitor your stress levels and know how to deal with your problems as they appear. The body is superbly equipped to deal with stress, but up to a certain level. If you’re adaptive resources become overworked and exhausted, your body ceases to function smoothly. Different organs then can become stress targets.
So how do you guard against stress?
- Plough (Hala Asana)
- Corpse (Shava Asana)
- Go for Sirovasti or Shirodhara
Other stress management techniques
|Get sufficient sleep|
|Get fresh air|
|Get physical exercise through yoga or aerobics|
|Enjoy a pure and natural diet. Have a balanced meal|
|Learn to say “no” more often|
|Deal with emotions constructively|
|Develop a sense of humor|
|Develop meaningful relationships|
|Develop a support group|
|Give your life a purpose and meaning|
|Pamper yourself sometimes|
|Buy a pet, especially if you are living alone|
|Express your aesthetic self|
|Enjoy a favourite recreation|
|Learn time management and delegation techniques|
|Practice deep breathing and relaxation skills|