What is Stress
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
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
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,
|Often irritable and angry. Can't control your
|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
|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
you like to analyze your stress?
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
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,
Mind traps: unrealistic
expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating,
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
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
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
- Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
- Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi)
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
|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