Understanding and Managing Stress

boredom and stressStress has been called “the invisible disease”. It is a disease that may affect any individual or even an organization. We cannot afford to ignore it. Hence it is important for us to recognize, understand and finally combat this dreadful disease which is attacking and killing more and more people day after day.

What is Stress?

Stress in individuals is defined as any interference that disturbs a person’s healthy mental and physical wellbeing. It occurs when the body is required to perform beyond its normal range of capabilities. The results of stress are harmful to individuals, families, society and also organizations.

When the human body is placed under physical or psychological stress, it increases the production of certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones produce marked changes in heart rate, blood pressure levels, metabolism, and physical activity. Although this physical reaction will help you to function more effectively when you are under pressure for short periods of time, it can be extremely damaging to the body in the long term.

Symptoms of Stress

There is no single symptom that can identify stress — stressed and unstressed people mayequally well have the same behavioral symptoms. A common factor in stressed individuals is the presence of a number of symptoms.

Some physical symptoms of stress can be life-threatening, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.Less life-threatening physical signs include insomnia, a feeling of constant fatigue, headaches, skin rashes, digestive disorders, ulcers, colitis, loss of appetite, overeating, and cramps. Many of these occur at some point after a stressful event. Other symptoms of stress are more immediate – feelings of nausea, breathlessness, or a dry mouth. All these symptoms, of course, may be caused by factors other than stress. Hence one should carefully observe the body signals before jumping to conclusions.

Some of the more common symptoms include a marked decline in personal appearance, a quick and fiery temper, changes in eating habits, and a general withdrawal from social activities.

The emotional symptoms of stress can include general irritability, acute anxiety attacks, depression, lack of libido, loss of a sense of humour, and an inability to concentrate on the simplest of routine tasks.

Other common indications of stress are over-emotionality, unnecessary aggression, feeling of guilt and apathy, loss of confidence in personal ability and feeling of helplessness. Many people indulge in excessive eating, drinking, smoking or even spending.

What is important is to identify the obvious changes in our behavioral and physical patterns. The best way is to always listen to what your body tells you as objectively as you can. This job can also be achieved by your closest aides— family, friends and colleagues.

Coping to Stress

  • Learn how to spot your stress warning signals, and then act on them.
  • Do not be afraid to talk about situations that you find stressful.
  • Take a stroll when you are stressed – it can help restore your perspective.
  • Avoid the habit of taking work home.
  • Try to be aware of any changes in your eating and drinking patterns.
  • Learn to delegate your work when you feel over-burdened.
  • Learn from those who do not suffer from stress.
  • Avoid routinely working late and at weekends.
  • Make a note of anything that you can find which helps you to relax and follow it up.
  • Listen to what your body tells you as objectively as you can.
  • Keep a diary of the days that you feel highly stressed.
  • Ask yourself if other people find you stressful to work with.
  • Treat yourself to something you want but would not normally buy.
  • Take a deep breath of some fresh air. Make sure you are close to a window.
  • Spend some time with and for yourself—away from work and family.
  • Make sure your home office is separate from your living space.
  • Always be flexible in your attitudes- you may not know the full story.
  • Do not make major decisions too quickly.
  • Relieve pressure by discussing work problems openly.
  • Go for a jog or swim to alleviate stress.
  • Play an active part in improving the quality of office life and personal life.
  • Arrange to have lunch/dinner with your partner or a close friend once a week.
  • Learn to talk openly about your emotions with close friends and confidants.
  • Overestimate when calculating the time that a project will take.
  • Ask a colleague to let you know when you appear to be stressed.
  • Jot down problems on a day-to-day basis and see if a pattern emerges.
  • Set realistic goals so that you do not feel stressed by too many failures to meet deadlines.
  • Try to take a five-minute break from your work every hour or so.
  • Cross each job off your “to-do” list when the job is done. It is satisfying to see a list shrink.
  • Avoid people and situations that tempt you to behave in ways you are not happy with.
  • Do not ignore your problems – acknowledge them as they arise.
  • Try not to be pressurized into making important decisions hastily.
  • Exercise can be a short-term solution to anger.
  • Be positive in your attitude towards people and difficult situations.
  • Practice yoga, meditation, or a similar exercise routine to help you relax.
  • Plan an outing for each weekend. Try not to let the days just drift past.
  • Listen to your favourite comedian. Laughter will help you relax.
  • Take a holiday that allows you to pursue a hobby.
  • Pamper yourself. It really works.

After all, Life Is Beautiful! Enjoy a stress-free life

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