word Stress is used to describe both external events that make demand on us and
the internal responses they trigger. In fact, stress is the body's general
response to any demand made on it, regardless of whether that demand is pleasant
or unpleasant, or whether it is emotional or physical.
All of us need some amount of challenge in our daily life to keep ourselves
stimulated and lead our lives to the fullest. Damaging stress occurs when
challenges becoming impossible to cope with the effect of excessive stress can
manifest itself in a variety of ways; it can cause potentially harmful changes
in the behavior and undermine both
physical and mental health.
The way in which damaging stress manifests itself in the body varies from one
individual to another. Besides one of the importance aspect of dealing with
stress is knowing the way in which your body responds to the challenges that are
too severe. These reactions are automatic and subconscious and might range from
being irritable to overeating, breaking out in lives, developing a
headache or having heartburn. However once you understand stresses operating in
your life, you can begin to cope with them. Slowly you will realize with
practice that it is possible to control stress-related symptoms in a varied
number of weeks.
When our body is subjected to stress over a long period of time, it remains in a
prolonged state of preparedness for flight or fight.
Blood pressure is
permanently raised, continuing
muscle tension leads to digestive problem, pains
and aches and the body's resistance to disease remains suppressed.
CAUSES OF STRESS
Stress is nothing new, but the 20th century has produced many changes
that have increased the amount of stress people experience.
Any changes that upsets your accustomed pattern of life can cause
Advances in technology have increased the pressure on everyone. In the
age of speed and instantaneous world wide communication, there is greater
need of quick responses that in the past.
More decision have to be made nowadays. The average person has a high
degree of responsibility and accountability.
You have a wider range of choices at all levels of life, in work and in
Overcrowding, noise and pollution have resulted from an increase in
People have come to demand a higher quality of communication and
understanding in all their relationships.
Technology has affected work, leisure, and social relationships. Human
contacts is decreasing as a result.
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
Do you recognize two or more of the following in yourself or some one close to
you? If so, the problem needs to be tackled immediately :
Has your sleep pattern altered?
Have you developed any nervous habits, such as fidgeting or touching
your hair and face repeatedly?
Is your blood pressure raised?
Do you have frequent headaches, cramps, and muscle spasms?
Have you become hyperactive?
Have your sexual performance, drive, and enjoyment deteriorated?
Has your child reverted to an earlier, outgrown habit, such as
bedwetting, temper tantrums, or thumb sucking?
MENTAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
Do you recognize two or more of the following in yourself or in someone close to
you? If so, stress might be reaching a potentially dangerous level. Remember,
however, that these can also be symptoms of other problems, such as physical
Have you begun to suffer from a phobia or obsession?
Do you constantly feel guilty?
Have your memory and concentration deteriorated?
Do you find yourself unable to finish one task properly before having to
rush on to the next?
Do you feel constantly irritable and angry?
Do you fill the day with trivial tasks?
Do you find it hard to make decisions?
Do you often cry or feel like crying?
Does your mind race so that you cannot focus on one task or thought?
THE NATURAL REACTION TO STRESS
When confronted by acute physical or psychological stress, the brain triggers a
chain reaction that prepares the body to fight the perceived threat or to flee
from it. Though essential to survival in life-threatening situations and often
useful when dealing with challenges such as deadlines at work, the
fight-or-flight response is less appropriate for dealing with more routine
stresses. If triggered often enough, it can lead to serious health problems.
These are some of the effects:
The brain perceives some form of impending danger.
Signals from the brain cause the adrenal glands to produce
fight-or-flight hormones such as adrenaline and nor-adrenaline, which speed
up heart and breathing rates and muscle response.
Kidney function is reduced as less blood is available to the kidneys.
Muscle fibers contract to prepare for sudden movement.
The pupils of the eyes dilate.
The salivary glands stop secreting saliva and the mouth feels dry.
Skin becomes pale as surface blood vessels contract to direct more blood
Sweat production increases in order to counteract overheating.
Heart rate increases to supply more blood to muscles
Breathing rate increases to supply more oxygen to muscles.
The liver increases its output of sugar and fat to fuel the muscles.
Digestion slows or ceases.
Tightened muscles stop urination and defecation.
WAYS OF HANDLING STRESS
Women fitness has underlined some of simple and effective ways of handling
Live "in the moment": Stress experts advice that we should start
by learning to live "in the moment" that is being aware of and improving our
state of mind in the present. It has been observed that all feelings of
anxiety are directed at past or future events, but by making the best of the
moment it can help us to feel better mentally, emotionally, as well as
Controlling your breathing patterns:
Breathing patterns are
directly related to the stress response and can both be indicate and
influence your emotional state. Emotional stress leads to shallow breathing
from the chest, which makes anxiety worse and reduce your energy level. In
order to ensure correct exchange of Oxygen and Carbon dioxide in the lungs
you need to learn to breathe more deeply - and to use the diaphragm instead
of the chest muscles.
To practice diaphragmatic breathing, lie flat with one hand on your chest
and one on your abdomen. Breathe slowly through your nose, keeping your
mouth closed. As you inhale, allow air to push your abdomen up so that your
hand rises. Hold in breath for a couple of seconds, and as you exhale feel
your abdomen deflate and your hand falls. Repeat a few times.
Learning to relax:
Relaxation helps reduce stress by distracting
your mind from stress provoking thoughts. Besides various relaxation
techniques help to counter effects of 'fight or flight' reaction. There are
two main techniques and both are easily learned. Practice them either lying
down or sitting a straight backed chair, with your feet flat and your hands
relaxing on your laps. Spend 15 min on each - preferably after work or just
before going to bed.
Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PMR) - close your eyes and direct your
attention to each part of your body in turn. As you do so, tense the muscle
of the area and hold for 5 sec, then release and totally relax the muscles.
Concentrate on the sensation of warmth and heaviness you will experience for
about 10 sec.
Deep Muscular Relaxation (DMR) - Use the same routine as for PMR, but
without tensing. Focus only on relaxing by directing your attention to each
set of muscles in turn, feeling them become weak and heavy.
Meditation techniques allow us to achieve a deep
state of calmness and serenity while remaining alert. It also causes the
oxygen requirement, breathing rate, heart rate and
blood pressure to drop
and help muscles to relax. There are different techniques including
so-called 'Mindfulness' Meditation and Visualization. For example imagine a
pleasant, peaceful scene, such as sunny, deserted beach. Close your eyes and
concentrate on all the color, smell and sounds. Put yourself in the picture
in a relaxed position. Continue Imagining for 10-15 min. If practiced
regularly, it can also lead to a more relaxed general view of life.
Exercise, balanced diet and regular sleep pattern can play an
enormous part in reducing stress, as well as help in maintaining body
fitness. A number of times aches and pain complained in the
and back are a result of poor posture and mental tension. Performing some
stretching exercises or regular exercise pattern can help you combat stress.
Check out stretching exercises at WF Flexibility exercises for reliving
stress. Similarly a healthy balanced diet based on cereals, fruits and
vegetables can help provide body with all the essential nutrients necessary
for survival. Deficiency of various
mineral can exhibit a
number of symptoms which might lead to mental and physical stress. Make sure
that you regularly do things just for fun. It might be as simple as taking a
walk in a park, going to movies, or even doing something you would normally
Consider as childish, such as jumping into a pile of fallen leaves or
splashing in puddles.
Laughter is a great antidote for stress and if you can laugh, those around
your will also feel less stress when they are in your company. Although no
single activity is a guaranteed to remove all stress if you do nothing, your
stress will certainly persist and probably increase.
Self talk : Watch your children carrying out tasks such as tying
their shoe-laces, you will see that they talk themselves through the action.
Without this chatter, the task is difficult to learn and perform. Recent
studies have suggested that this approach is also useful to adults,
especially when they switch from negative to positive talk.
As you talk to yourself, use the examples given opposite to help You. Be
sure to concentrate on the positive aspects of the problem or solution.
Letting off steam is another good way of relieving stress or
tension. It is best to express your frustration or anger when it occurs, if
you always bottle things up, you are more likely to suffer from physical
illness associated with stress or to explode with pent-up rage. If you want
to yell to let off steam, go somewhere such as a basement or a garden, where
you cannot easily disturb others.
Change of routine : Breaking
routine helps to remove the stress
that is bound into your personal rituals. Pick up a small gift for yourself
or a loved one on the way. And when you arrive, don't always do the same
thing. If you usually sit down in front of the TV with a drink, try doing 10
min exercise and taking a shower first. Similarly, on weekends it is just as
important to vary your activities as much as you can.
Change your response: One of the best , but most difficult,
stress relieving strategy is to change your response to the event around
you. You are the only person who can improve your
attitude and performance.
There is no sense in blaming other people or past events for everything that
goes wrong. You might get sympathy, but you will not achieve the results you
Identify the myths and accept the realities of life: Stress is
invariably the consequence of myths. You are bound to be disappointed if you
always expect life to be just to you. Besides a lot of time will be dealt in
seeking non existent answers if you look for clear cut Solutions to
problems. Learn to identify the myths and accept realities of life.
First ask yourself what your own 'should' or 'must's' really are and write
them down. Then challenge your own expectations asking yourself. 'Why do I
believe that? Is it possible to live up to this rule? What will happen if I
Next revise your rules to make them more reasonable. Use self-talk methods,
nice if others thought well of me. I certainly would feel uncomfortable if
everyone did not like me. But I can accept, that some people may not like me.
Besides which, I like myself and my friends like me, even if other people do
Once your stress-inducing problems have been clearly identified. You can think
out on a wide range of possible solutions, rejecting those that you know from
experience do not work. Focus on the quality of the effort involved rather than
the amount of the solution.
If you regard happiness as coming from outside, you will waste a lot of time
chasing it, because all the evidence suggest that happiness comes from within
yourself. The same lies true with all other aspects of your life physical,
mental, social and emotional life.