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  • Dr. Sanjana Saraf

Stress and Stress Management

Stress is considered a normal part of life, and some causes of stress such as physical exercise, positive emotional states and creative activities are usually considered healthy and this is known as eustress. Prolonged and unwanted stress amounting to distress, on the other hand, can have undesirable effects mentally and physically. These reactions vary from person to person. Any person in a physically or mentally demanding situation is set to be under stress. Certain medical conditions and terminal illness can also produce stress. Chronic feelings of anger or despair, changes in-home or work situations, hospitalisations also create distress. Stress has numerous effects across a number of dimensions. Some psychological effects of stress may include feelings of being depressed, urge to cry, wanting to escape, boredom, negative thoughts, worry, anxiety, irritability, helplessness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, lethargy, temper outbursts and etc. Behavioural effects may be excessive smoking, drinking, impulsivity, frequent crying, withdrawal, aggressive/destructive behaviour and etc. Some physiological effects of stress include fatigue, dry mouth, epigastric discomfort, aches and pains, headaches, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. It is also known to affect the immune system making the body prone to a wide range of health problems.

Some common sources of stress are • Daily Hassles like arguments with spouse, a long list of things to do, inflation, traffic jams, etc. • Major Life events that require adjustment like a change of job, marriage, divorce, childbirth, etc. • Catastrophes and natural disasters. Stress management The first step toward stress management is to recognise when and what stresses you out. Adopt simple ways to relax like a warm shower, listening to music, etc. keeping in mind the demands of our daily lives, be prepared for small stressors like traffic jams. Learn to say "no" to friends and family when you know you cannot meet their demands without becoming overwhelmed. In case of too much work ‘prioritise’ and keep handy a “to do” list. Engage in hobbies and outings, exercise regularly, eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, avoid excess caffeine intake, stay away from instant relief methods like the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, practice healthy coping habits and reduce negative self-talk.

When to get in touch with a Mental Health Professional • The above methods do not help to alleviate stress symptoms. • Increase in symptoms of stress • Performance at work or academics deteriorates. • Changes in appetite, sleep disturbance. • Mood swings. •A strong urge to escape.

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