There is nothing wrong in being stressed or anxious because stress is simply a basic human response to positive as well as negative events such as a new job, celebration, death, perceived challenge, or danger. Right from landing up at the office on time and hosting a dinner party, to awaiting a doctor’s feedback from the operation theatre, stress and anxiety are integral parts of life. Stress is, in fact, a positive factor that urges people to excel at their jobs and spurs them to act in a timely manner.
Stress, however, is just a temporary response to a specific situation, after which the body is expected to get back to its normal state. That said, given the hectic contemporary lifestyle, the body is forced to continuously stay on alert for long periods of time, without being allowed to rest and reboot itself. Another important cause for high stress levels is the human being’s ability to recall and relive past experiences. Incidences of sadness or pain, when recalled, also cause stress and anxiety levels to spike.
Side Effects of Stress
The side effects of stress range from basic headaches to life-threatening medical conditions.
• Stress – even at the mildest level – can interfere with emotional stability, making it difficult to get a grip of the situation.
• Chronic stress when untreated over time is likely to lead to depression. It is also known to worsen or trigger other medical complications, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood sugar, cancer, and lung problems. Depression, sadness, pain when combined with excessive stress can induce suicidal tendencies, as well as affect mental states.
• Stress can also cause people to overeat and put on weight over time.
• Cortisol has pronounced effects on the immune system, suppressing its functions that may not really be needed when the body is responding to stressful situations. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system.
• Cortisol (stress hormone) also reduces insulin production, increases blood sugar levels to produce energy in order to prepare the body for action.
• Stress does affect the chromosomes and speeds up aging.
The combined effect, therefore, is a compromised health condition in all respects.
Effective Stress Busters
Dealing with stress and anxiety is a continuous process. There are several techniques to pacify the mind, stabilize emotions, and help control responses to daily challenges.
• Spending quality time with friends and family at regular intervals – preferably outdoors – can help unwind in a casual setting.
• Quality time with the self – music, meditation, reading, yoga, tai-chi, etc. help restore a calm and composed outlook, thereby clearing and rejuvenating the mind to approach problems differently.
• Stress is a universal problem and one can learn a lot from other people’s experiences in tackling similar situations. Sharing the concern and asking for help when one is completely exhausted is okay.
• However, there are concerns that may fade only with time, or may not have any solutions. Learning to let go off them and taking diversions is the best way to combat these stressful situations.
Relaxation and therapeutic techniques to combat stress, however, will prove useful only when people will themselves get out of challenging situations without getting hurt!