What is Stress?

Stress is defined as an individual’s psychological response to an external stimulus that triggers a “fight-or- flight” reaction.  Stress is a fact of nature so exerting efforts to eliminate it completely from your life is going to be futile.

It should be understood that all stress is not bad for mild stress may initiate a positive change or help to increase your focus in the right direction. However, episodes of excess stress left alone to build up may result in a state of mental and physical unrest. Emotional, physical or chemical factors contribute towards a stressed state of mind and in extreme cases may cause psychological disorders or other illnesses.

Symptoms of Stress

Stress may exhibit varying symptoms depending on the capability of an individual to handle stress in a healthy manner. There are a variety of emotional and physical symptoms associated with a stressed state of mind and are explained below:

1. Physical symptoms

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Fatigue

2. Emotional symptoms

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in eating habits like overeating
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Loss of enthusiasm
  • Mood swings mainly characterised as irritability and depression

Researchers have taught us that prolonged period of stress results in a condition known as the stress syndrome.  It should be thoroughly understood that the symptoms vary from person to person depending on how they perceive a particular stimulus. A person burdened with a work project with a strict completion deadline might take this as a motivational factor to work harder to achieve his goal. On the other hand another individual may experience burn out in a similar situation resulting in psychological and physical conditions. The stress syndrome consists of the following unhealthy conditions:

  1. Hyper tension/ High blood pressure
  2. Weight loss/ Muscle wasting
  3. Gastro intestinal ulcers
  4. Depression
  5. Suppression of immune system

How to deal with stress

Stress management is a learned art that helps you to control your emotions in a tension-filled state. The ability of being able to mould the stress factors in a favourable manner without impacting your mental state is the perfect solution to beat stress. First, you need to realise what are the unhealthy ways of dealing with stress contrasted with the healthy ways.

1.     Unhealthy ways of dealing with stress

  • Using pills or drugs
  • Smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • Cutting yourself off from friends and family
  • Overeating
  • Under eating
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Displaying aggressive behaviour towards friends and family
  • Ignoring your problems instead of facing them

2.     Healthy ways of dealing with stress

If you’re finding yourself being drowned in a pool of worries then it is time to look for healthy alternatives of dealing with stress. There is no universal solution that can be applied in everyone’s life to relive oneself from the negative impact of stress. You should find a technique that best suits your personality and situation to achieve positive results.

What are stress management techniques?

1.    Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Exercise regularly

It is essential to spend at least 30 minutes daily in any physical activity for it plays a significant role in minimising the negative effects of stress. Exercising on a regular basis helps to turn down the production of stress hormones and associated neurochemicals.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy start of a day with a nutritious breakfast will keep your mind alert which will automatically keep you focused.

Get proper sleep

Lack of sleep is among the chief reasons for a stressed state of mind. Adequate rest results in maximum brain activity that prepares you to cope up with stress effectively.

Refrain from smoking, drugs and alcohol

Addictive elements do give one a temporary state of relief from stress but such negatives habits have deteriorating effect on the body in the long run.

2.   Take out time for yourself

If you push yourself in a burdensome environment continuously you’re bound to be impacted with stress. It’s essential to indulge in fun-filled and relaxing activities to balance the work and play factors in your life. Follow any of the following stress management techniques to weave way for a healthy lifestyle.

  • Go for a walk
  • Indulge in an activity you enjoy such as gardening or writing
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Go for a relaxing massage
  • Take a long hot shower
  • Socialise with friends and family
  • Keep your sense of humour

3.   Benefits of stress management counselling

Many mental-health professionals extend their expert hands to rescue you from the negative effects of stress. Group therapy, support groups and individual counselling are given in an attempt of reducing stress and anxiety. It requires long-term commitment on part of the client, but the benefits are significant.

4.   Include meditation in your lifestyle

For centuries religious traditions have emphasised the benefits of meditation and other relaxation techniques for a longer, better and healthier lifestyle. Contributing 20 to 30 minutes daily to a mediation session will help you to achieve a relaxing state of mindfulness. Mental-health professionals often advise clients to adopt the art of meditation in their daily schedule.  A popular form of meditation used for managing stress is known as the ‘transcendental meditation’ (TM), which involves attaining a higher sense of enhanced consciousness during the 15 to 20 minutes of daily sessions.

5.   Learn the technique of progressive muscle relaxation

This relaxation technique was initiated in 1930 in which the muscle groups are exercised by tightening and relaxing them in succession for about 10 to 20 minutes daily. The ideology behind the working principle of this technique is that a relaxed state of mind is a result of a relaxed physical state.

Prolonged periods of ignored stress may result in severe psychological illness and other serious diseases. It’s necessary for every individual to learn to tame the stress-causing groups; people, events and work in such a manner that they do not upset the balance of a relaxed state of mind.

What are your tips for reducing stress in your day-today life? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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