It is a well-known fact that stress disorders are increasing throughout the world. The main reasons attributed to this are rapid urbanization, overcrowding and a very hectic lifestyle with too many goals and too little time on hand.
Waiting for a bus, being in a traffic jam, watching horror movies, unhappy relationships, examinations and many more factors lead to stress. These factors cause changes not only at the psychological level but also in the brain affecting the autonomic nervous system which later lead to more organic diseases like hypertension, cardiac conditions, allergies, diabetes etc.
The Stress Model
There have been many descriptions and explanations for the development of stress in an individual. But among the very many descriptions, the model of Flight- Fight mechanism is quite widely accepted.
In situations of danger, the body produces large amounts of adrenalin stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This in turn leads to muscular contractions, acceleration of the heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased respiratory rate, sweating, slowing down of digestion etc.
How Stress Manifests In Your Body?
1. Simple activation of Flight or Fight mechanism.
2. Continuous muscular tension, faulty breathing habits.
3. Muscular pains and spasms, lower backaches, pains and aches especially in the neck, shoulder and between the shoulder regions.
4. Complaints of mental fatigue, continuous strain, easily irritable, everything seems too much.
5. Organic problems like dyspepsia, gastric ulcers, constipation, hypertension, headaches, skin diseases, gastrointestinal diseases.
6. Nervous breakdown, Burnout Syndrome, physical breakdown.
How to manage Stress in everyday life?
• Minimize factors leading to stressful situations. Seek balance between work and leisure.
• Have your place of work ergonomically designed. Working long hours affect the eyes to a great extent. Frequent pauses between work and regular eye exercises can be helpful.
• Our body requires movements in order to breakdown stress hormones. Make it a habit to exercise as regularly as possible. Yoga exercises are the best physical exercises. Through gentle stretching, tensed muscles get relaxed and muscles develop uniformly. A short relaxation phase at the end of each Yoga session accelerates the breakdown of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system.
• Yoga poses that are helpful in the management of stress are Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana), Plough (Halasana), Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana) and Locust (Salabhasana). The Lion Pose (Simhasana) is also effective in releasing stress.
• Breathing exercises like Ujjayi Pranayama is calming and helps relieve stress. Meditation on weekends also helps one prepare mentally for the new week.
• Food plays an important role in stress buildup. The followings foods and drinks increase the risk of stress formation in one’s already susceptible body: alcohol, smoking, meat, sugar, coffee etc.
On the other hand, ginger and lemon tea have a positive and relaxing effect. Soothing herbal teas help relieve stress. Salads, vegetables, fruits, milk products increase resistance towards stress formation. One must try and avoid “Stress-Eating” (frequent binging on food under stress). Take the time to enjoy what you eat.
• Laughter is the best medicine and a very good way to relax. Most importantly, think positive, take one day at a time and keep your cool in stressful situations.