“I am so stressed!”
Life is stressful!
Stress is Normal!
These are some phrases used in everyday conversations! We are a generation that has accepted stress as a normal part of life.
But is stress “normal?”
What is Stress?
Let’s go back to physics where we first came across the word, stress. The definition of stress in physics is “the force acting on the unit area of a material!” Physics further defines strain as the “effect of stress on a body.”
Let’s see how the textbook meaning of stress and strain manifests in real life!
According to mental health.org.uk, “Stress is a feeling of being overwhelmed or being unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.”
How Stress Functions?
- We feel overwhelmed or stressed when we experience pressure from external sources in some form or the other.
- When we experience stress our body activates our immune system by secreting hormones that cause a fight or flight response.
- We respond to a stressful situations.
- The hormones go back to normal once the stressful situation passes.
- If we correlate this with the definition of stress in physics.
The “Force” Triggering Stress = the External Circumstances.
Unit Area of Material = Our Body and Mind
Strain = Impact of Stress
While the Forces(external triggers), for the stress may be the same for different people, the Strain(our response) varies.
Here’s a list of what you might experience when you are stressed:
- Aches and pains in different parts of the body
- Sweating, etc.
These are some common ways in which stress manifests itself in us. In other words, these are symptoms of the mental/physical strain we experience due to stress.
Sustained “strain” can lead to severe health conditions such as heart diseases, asthma, obesity, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s, and many more! Therefore, we need to address the symptoms and manage stress to prevent serious health issues!
This leads us to the question, “How to minimize stress?”
One important point to be noted is that while the cause for the stress may be the same how we respond varies! And, this is what makes all the difference to what our lives are all about!
The external stress-causing stimuli cannot be controlled. However, we can control our response to these stimuli!
Many people treat bodily symptoms such as those listed above with medication without getting into the root cause of the symptom. The problem with this approach is that when you address the physical symptom, it may get cured with medication temporarily. But it will arise again the next time there is a trigger.
You need to address the root cause, how you deal with stressful circumstances!
The first step to stress management is accepting that you are stressed.
Then try to identify the reason that triggered stress.
Once you know what kind of situations or people trigger stress in you, find ways of addressing these issues. For instance, if it is words of another individual that make you stressed, try to avoid getting into discussions that can cause stress.
Many people believe that getting away from people or trying to avoid challenging situations is the best coping strategy. Unfortunately, it is not!
When you avoid risks and keep yourself safe from challenges, you are putting limitations on your growth and creativity. Besides, you are limiting your ability to cope with unwanted catastrophic situations. For instance, people who have led a life keeping themselves safe, avoiding risks, are the ones who were at a loss when the pandemic struck! This was an unexpected situation that affected everyone across the globe. But people who had been leading a safe life were at a loss of how to respond while those with a risk-taking approach in life were better equipped to manage it.
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