Stress is an unfortunate component of urban life. Since Stress Awareness Day happenned this month, here’s some dope on stress and how to beat it
“Off with his head!” – Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland
Don’t you wish you could ‘behead’ the stresses and irritations in your life once and for all, just like the Queen of Hearts did? Pity we don’t live in Wonderland where the most wondrous things happen. Most of our daily routine consists of humdrum responsibilities related to work and family and the stress that seems a natural byproduct of it.
Let’s Talk About Stress
“For me, the daily stresses build up and have a snowball effect. Once the stresses have rolled into a massive ball, it begins to crush me and I’m flailing to be rescued,” shares Misba Huriwala, a 26-year-old finance manager. What little stresses is she referring to? “I’m rushing to get to work on time, and then there’s traffic, and there’s no parking which makes me even later, and when I finally get to work, I get an earful from my employer, and there’s work piled up and impossible deadlines to meet and upset clients who have to be dealt with, and leaving late from work and missing friends’ birthdays which gets them angry with me… It’s just so stressful and exhausting!” she exclaims breathlessly.
So maybe stay-at-home parents have it easier, right? Wrong. “I’m a homemaker and mother of two seven-year-olds,” shares Karina Patel. “My routine is hectic. My day begins at six a.m. and ends around midnight. I prepare meals and getting the kids ready for school. I drop and pick them up, I keep the house clean and organized. I supervise homework and help the kids with their projects, I chauffer them to and from any after-school classes or parties they might have, I handle tantrums, I handle grocery shopping, I worry about whether I’m being a good parent, whether I’m teaching the kids the right values, about their future, about finances…. I’m constantly on the brink. Add an illness or health scare, a bad injury or complaint from school about bad behavior, or a fight with my husband, or the kids being mischievous…or even just me having a bad day… and I’m having a nervous breakdown.”
Stress Awareness Day
This is precisely why there is such a need to create awareness about stress, its effects on our health, and coping methods to help deal with stress. This is why every first Wednesday of November is Stress Awareness Day. This is why April is relegated Stress Awareness Month. There’s a lot of stresses in our daily lives and we need to be more aware of the causes and effects.
The Inside Story
Stress affects us internally and quietly. It’s a dangerous fella, it is! Biologically, it creates havoc in our system. The nervous system goes hyperactive to help us cope with the stressor, pumping adrenaline and cortisol, which are only good in small doses. Beyond that, stress is just a mean old fella, causing damage in its wake – both physiological and psychological.
The pulse quickens, the heart works harder, breath is rapid, the muscles get tense. Our body basically prepares to either fight the stressor or flee from it. This is good, because it keeps us alert and able to rescue ourselves from the nasty bugger. But when the body is in stress mode often, it begins to take its toll on us.
The After Story
What can you expect from chronic stress? Well, firstly, your body isn’t going to distinguish between emotional and physical stress, or between a major and minor stressor. Any stress is stressful for our system. Whether we’re upset about an argument with a friend or whether we’re being held at gun point (shudder!), our body reacts the same.
If there are a lot of worries and responsibilities to handle, our bodies may be in constant stress mode. And the more we stress, the more difficult it is to snap out of it. vicious bugger, isn’t it?
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Stress, That Is)
Expect to fight off a gamut of health issues. Stress makes us more susceptible to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and infertility. Stress damages every part of our system. It can cause digestive disorders like diarrhea and constipation, sleep disorders – sleeping too much or too little, weight issues – overeating or loss of appetite, and depression. It even speeds up the ageing process.
The De-stress Express
Engineering student Shreyas Devarajan eases tension by listening to music or watching a sitcom. “It gives me a breather from the huge volume of books I need to plough through,” he shares.
“I meditate or do like Garfield does and just sleep,” grins graphic designer Eshaya Mehta.
Here is what psychologists recommend to handle stress:
- Avoid. Yup, that’s the first rule in the de-stress handbook. If a situation stresses you out, avoid it. If a person stresses you out, avoid them too! Like the plague! Run for your life, my friend, run! Indulge in things that you enjoy instead!
- Change. If you can’t avoid the stressor, change it. If the stressor is not within your control to change, change yourself. That is, change your thought process about the stressor and focus on the positives. Start to focus on things that calm you. Remember ‘My Favourite Things’, the song from The Sound of Music? Go with it.
- Accept. If it’s something that can’t be changed, you will just have to bite down and accept it. If a fractured foot means you will miss out on work for a few days, so be it. It won’t be the end of the world – for you or for your company.
So relax, take a deep breath and focus on things that help you rather than cause harm. Start a campaign, for instance! Doing good for others is rewarding for you too. Don’t believe it? Check this out.
Start a campaign for a good cause or support one!