Stress myths busted!

Suddenly there is a whole new culprit for diseases these days – Stress. It is seen not only in adults but pages and pages get written about how kids and adolescents too get affected.

Commonly it is understood to be some kind of worry or burden (social or financial) that has to be solved. So what is stress? Stress cannot be quantified. Yet it has actually been closely involved with human evolution as our ancestors fought wild animals or scrambled to acquire food. Our body reacts to any challenge with the primitive fright-fight-flight syndrome. All of us have experienced such body reactions.

Just think how you feel as you run to catch a bus or train, or are chased by a wild dog? The heart beats very fast, we become breathless, muscles become tense and we begin to sweat profusely. The body releases a substance called adrenalin in the blood. This causes the changes mentioned earlier so that our body can deal with the situation in this case, run away from the dog or get on to the bus.

Over a period of few minutes, the heart and breathing calms down and we gradually relax. The body reaction was designed to deal the external situation or achieve a goal. Hence the changes were helpful. Once the stressor is removed, body is supposed to become normal.

Modern day stressors however are different. They involve long working hours, an angry boss, uncooperative colleagues, personal conflicts at home, overwork etc. However in any knowledge intensive profession, an individual is never really away from work as thought processes continue. Our body reacts to these factors (stress) in the only way it knows how- by releasing adrenaline in the blood stream. This causes the same changes we noted above. As long as stress remains, the body continuously remains in a heightened state. This means muscles remain tense; blood sugar remains high, heart functions at a faster rate. Our performance improves to some extent due to these changes but problems begin when the body does not revert to its normal equilibrium. Diabetes, high blood pressure, persistent neck and back pain, ulcers etc. are the new lifestyle diseases arising from such uncontrolled and unabated stress.

Having said that it is important to note that stress cannot be totally done away with. What we can do is learn to manage the effects of stress. This means try to consciously relax and undo the physical changes that are caused by adrenalin release. Our mind has a deep control over our body. Controlling our mind and thoughts can go a long way in managing stress.
Meditation is an excellent tool for this. Choose any form of meditation that appeals to you and can do in the time available to you. This will ensure regularity in practice. Studies have shown that brain activity decreases while meditating and right brain activity increases which is good for us. As one relaxes he/she can feel the breathing slow down, heart rate fall and the muscles relax.

Some form of stress busters must be included in our daily routine. Listening to music and exercise are also excellent for stress relief. Exercises can be of any form (yoga, walking, swimming, sports or gym exercises).

However incorporating this routine will not show overnight results. Give it some time, make healthy lifestyle changes, put your goals into perspective and take charge of your life!

There is no reason to fear stress, make it work for you!

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