WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress can be defined as a state of physical and mental tension caused by certain external or internal factors in a person’s life. Stress is a kind of disease. It is different from other diseases because there is ni germ or virus causing it. It is the result of the body-mind interaction. It is thus a psychosomatic problem. “Psyche” means the mind and “soma” means the body. It is a kind of daily imbalance resulting in the daily wear and tear of the body.
Stress is a stimulant which drives us to act. Thus if stress is properly motivated it can be tamed to do us good and used negatively it creates jealousy, hatred, anger, suspicion, nervous tension, fatigue and other maladies. Stress is of 2 types:
- Positive stress- it gives us incentive to work and a desire to do well. Otherwise we would be content with what we have and avoid adversity. Without this humanity would have continued to live in Stone Age.
- Negative stress- it is the result of the imbalance in our perceptions. It stems from different kinds of frustration, worry and despondency.
The art of stress management is to keep yourself at a level of stimulation that is healthy and enjoyable. Life without stimulus would be incredibly dull and boring. Life with too much stimulus becomes unpleasant and tiring, and may ultimately damage your health or well-being. Too much stress can seriously interfere with your ability to perform effectively. By analyzing the likely causes of stress, you will be able to plan your responses to likely forms of stress. These might be actions to alleviate the situation or may be stress management techniques that you will use.
Stress could be:
- Emotional / mental stress- caused by our personality as it interacts with the environment everyday.
- Social stress- resulting from our surroundings.
- Digestive stress- caused by poor eating habits.
- Environmental stress- resulting from smog, noise and air / sound pollution.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STRESS?
Stress manifests itself in myriad ways in our life. Too much of negative stress means we become disagreeable and have to put in much effort to do habitual jobs also. We become oversensitive and tend to be short tempered. The signs of stress are:
- Panic attacks and breathing problems.
- Sleep disorders / insomnia.
- Irritability, impatience and excessive anger.
- Digestive and abdominal disorders / pain.
- Fatigue and body ache in almost all parts of the body.
- Increased food / alcohol / smoking / tobacco intake or dependency.
- Muscle tension.
- Loss of or increased appetite.
- Anxiety attacks.
- Grinding teeth / jaw clenching.
- Nervousness / trembling.
- Cold, sweaty hands.
- Loss of libido/ impotency.
The mind’s reaction to stress is harder to predict. These mental reactions vary according to the situation and the person. They may include feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, annoyance or frustration. Prolonged stress is a serious condition can lead to life threatening illnesses particularly high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks.
HOW DO I CONTROL STRESS?
According to HINDU psychologists like Patanjali there are 5 stages of the mind. These are:
- KSHIPTA- (EXTREMELY RESTLESS)
when we are prone to tension, emotional conflicts and worries.
- MURA- (INERT)
Dull and inert state under the influence of tension. In this state the mind is prone to passions.
- VIKSHIPTA- (THE IN BETEWEEN STAGE)
Partial concentration stage.
- EKAGRATA- (CONCENTRATED STATE)
Deep absorption with total dedication like a KARAMYOGI.
- NIRUDHA-(SUPERCONCIOUS STATE)
Akin to deep smadhi and not easily attainable.
If an individual under the influence of Kshipta and you try to control him, he will not listen and revolt. In the state of Mura he will not react and in Vikshipta state he may or may not listen to you. In moments of sanity he may admit the truth of your words and become willing to obey you.
THE ART LIES IN TRAINING THE MIND IN SUCH A WAY THAT WE CAN GATHER OUR ENERGIES TOWARDS A USEFUL PURPOSE.
Concentration of the mind is the sine qua non of a really peaceful and integrated life. The act of gathering is to collect the energies and focus our attention on our divine self. This is difficult but possible. Thus the mind from the kshipta or mura state is brought under control by act of gathering to vikshipta.
Before beginning your day, try to analyse the state of mind- kshipta or mura. Now concentrate and make a dedicated effort to aim towards ekagrachita or vikshipta state. Through out the day keep finding small time slots of a few minutes to concentrate and be positive.
SOME STEPS TOWARDS STRESS CONTROL ARE:
- Identify causes of stress. Make honest assessments whether stress is related to your home and family, work or other relationship.
- Share your thoughts and feelings with your loved ones.
- Discuss the causes of stress, openly with those concerned.
- Try to avoid unpleasant situations.
- Realize that there are other people experiencing problems similar to yours.
- Simplify your life.
- Manage time and conserve energy. Make time for hobbies, recreational and social activities which will help divert attention away from problems.
- Follow a regular exercise programme. Practice a relaxation routine involving exercises, breathing patterns and meditations.
- Seek help from professional organizations or self-help groups which offers support and advice.
- Try to stay healthy.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol.
FIND TIME FOR MEDITATION DAILY.
We have to realize that we are the children of immortal bliss. Even if we are the weakest in manifestation- let positive, strong, helpful thought enter our brains from the very beginning in early childhood. Let our lives open to these thoughts and close to negative and paralyzing ones. Instead of emphasizing the negative thought let us train our minds towards positive thoughts