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Stress Management

What is Stress

The 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 stress.

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 common.

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, helpless, depressed.
Always tired
Often irritable and angry. Can't control your temper
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 stomachaches
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

                                              Would 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 someone else.

  • 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, self-criticism, over-analyzing.

  • Mind traps: unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating, rigid thinking.

  • 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 with them.

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 stress?


  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
  • Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi)

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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 meal
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
Enjoy nature
Express your aesthetic self
Enjoy a favourite recreation
Learn time management and delegation techniques
Practice deep breathing and relaxation skills