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What exactly is stress?

While the meaning of the word stress varies from person to person, the most commonly accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.

Is stress always bad?

No. A certain amount of 'stress' motivates us to achieve our goals and ambitions. It is only when stress begins to affect us that it turns bad!

Is stress inevitable?

No. it is not an inevitable consequence of an event: It depends a lot on people's perceptions of a situation and their real ability to cope with it.

What are the dangers of stress?

Unfortunately, this mobilization of the body for survival also has negative consequences. In this state, we are excitable, anxious, jumpy and irritable. This reduces our ability to work effectively with other people. With trembling and a pounding heart, we can find it difficult to execute precise, controlled skills. And the intensity of our focus on survival interferes with our ability to make fine judgments based on drawing information from many sources. We find ourselves more accident-prone and less able to make good decisions. This causes bad decisions and leads to more stress causing a vicious cycle.

Does stress cause other diseases too?

Yes it does. Among the number of ailments caused by stress, the more common ones are diabetes, raised blood pressure, low back pain, constant headache, neck pain, anxiety, anger, lack of concentration, emotional imbalance, reckless driving, sexual difficulties and eating disorders. Not all people have all the manifestations of stress and the symptoms vary from person to person, however most people can sense that they are stressed.

The behavioral effects of stress

The behavioral effects of an over-stressed lifestyle are easy to explain. When under pressure, some people are more likely to drink heavily or smoke, as a way of getting immediate chemical relief from stress while some people tend to overeat. If one is addicted to either of them, it starts another vicious cycle which can be extremely difficult to get out of! Stress hormones accelerate the heart to increase the blood supply to muscles; however, blood vessels in the heart may have become so narrow that not enough blood reaches the heart to meet these demands. This can cause a heart attack! Smoking and drinking can themselves accelerate the heart attack.

What causes stress?

In normal working life, much of our stress is subtle and occurs without obvious threat to survival. Most comes from things like work overload, conflicting priorities, inconsistent values, over-challenging deadlines, conflict with co-workers, unpleasant environments and so on. Not only do these reduce our performance as we divert mental effort into handling them, they can also cause a great deal of unhappiness. In becoming stressed, people must therefore make two main judgments: firstly they must feel threatened by the situation, and secondly they must doubt that their capabilities and resources are sufficient to meet the threat.

What happens during a stressful episode?

When there is perceived threat, the body responds by secreting certain 'stress hormones'. These hormones help us to run faster and fight harder. They increase heart rate and blood pressure, delivering more oxygen and blood sugar to power important muscles. They increase sweating in an effort to cool these muscles, and help them stay efficient. They divert blood away from the skin to the core of our bodies, reducing blood loss if we are damaged. And as well as this, these hormones focus our attention on the threat, to the exclusion of everything else. All of this significantly improves our ability to survive life-threatening events.

But not all situations are life threatening………

True. In less severe situations, the response is also less dramatic, but since the situation is persistent, the response is also persistent. This means that in stress due to reasons mentioned above, your body continues to work above its optimal self and enter what is called as the 'General Adaptation mode'. Though this can continue for some time, the body soon enters an 'exhaustion phase' which is the 'burn out' you feel, when the body begins to give up performing above normal levels. But what is important is that the body's response is based not only on real threat, but also on perceived threat. So if you feel you are stressed, your body also responds accordingly.

What is the basis of stress management?

The way we live our lives can have a huge impact on the way that we experience stress. Life is quite a long journey! Well trained marathon runners are able to consistently perform well, whereas poorly trained ones tend to get injured quite often. This is true with stress management too. Adopting a healthy lifestyle means that you can concentrate better and are more energetic in what you do. This is particularly important when you are in challenging or stressful situations. It is also important in building stamina (the ability to survive intensely stressful situations over the long term).

How can I reduce the effects of stress?

Rest is what we do to let stress subside. Rest at the end of a day, and at the end of a week, helps us to calm down. Doing fun things that we enjoy in our leisure time compensates us for the stress we experience at work, bringing some balance back into life. This is particularly important if we routinely experience unpleasant levels of stress.

How should I approach stress management?

There are three major approaches that we can use to manage stress: • Action-oriented: In which we seek to confront the problem causing the stress, changing the environment or the situation; • Emotionally-oriented: In which we do not have the power to change the situation, but we can manage stress by changing our interpretation of the situation and the way we feel about it; and • Acceptance-oriented: Where something has happened over which we have no power and no emotional control, and where our focus is on surviving the stress.

Where should I start with stress management?

A good way of getting rest and reducing long-term stress is to take up an enjoyable, non-rushed sport or hobby. For example, if you spend all your working day competing, then it can be very pleasant to be completely non-competitive for some of your free time. Slow physical activities such as sailing, swimming or walking are good for this, as are others where there is little or no pressure for performance. Reading novels, watching television or socializing can also be very restful. Vacations are particularly important, and you really do need to take these. Where possible, take two weeks off rather than just one week: A common observation that people make is that they really do not start to relax properly until the end of their first week of vacation. Make sure that you take your vacations and that you use them to relax. Also, make sure that you get enough good quality rest during the week, so that you can keep on enjoying life to its fullest. Thyroid Diseases Whenever I see any patient with any chronic illness, I always think that thyroid may play a role- Dr. Hyman Thyroid is the PACE SETTER of the body- Guyton Text Of Physiology

QUOTES

America's health care system is in crisis precisely because we systematically neglect wellness and prevention.

- Tom Harkin

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

- Abraham Maslow

There are six components of wellness: proper weight and diet, proper exercise, breaking the smoking habit, control of alcohol, stress management and periodic exams.

- Kenneth H. Cooper

Water is a only drink for a wise man

- Henry David

Your stomach is not a waste basket

- Anonymous

The ground work of all happiness is good health

– Leigh Hunt

"To insure good health: Eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life

– William Londen

Improved diet and physical activity are more effective than medication in reducing the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes.

- New England Journal of Medicine