by Jayaram V
Stress is a major and one of the most common problems in life.
Everyone suffers from stress to some extent, from small babies to grownups.
The very process of living is stressful.
As part of our survival mechanism we are hardwired to experience stress whenever we perceive threat to our wellbeing.
Even dogs and cats do suffer from stress.
The causes of stress
Much of the stress we experience arises from the demands of life.
A host of problems contribute to stress.
As society advances and grows in complexity, as expectations grow and as demands of life increase our stress levels also increase proportionately. Deadlines, failures, setbacks, problems, fear, uncertainty, competition make our lives more stressful.
We cannot completely remove stress from our lives. Nor we can avoid stressful situations. However, we can cope with it and manage it with effective and intelligent strategies.
Stress symptoms arise differently in different people. Some well known symptoms arising from prolonged stress are fatigue, headaches, nausea, memory problems, attention problems, anxiety, worry, anger, irritability, introversion, withdrawal, depression, sleeping problems, eating problems and so on.
There are healthy ways to cope with stress and unhealthy ways. Drinking, smoking, overeating, avoiding, withdrawing, becoming angry, aggressive or violent are a few unhealthy ways in which people try to cope with their stress.
To deal with stress you need to understand and identify the causes of stress. Once you identify the causes either through introspection or with the help of a specialist, you can devise suitable strategies.;
Stress can arise due to external or internal causes. External causes are environment related. They may be under you control or beyond your control. You may deal with them by changing them or avoiding them or changing your attitude or thinking towards them. Internal causes may be either physical or mental or behavioral. You can either change them if it is within your capacity or accept them if they are beyond your control. Some of these problems can also be dealt with through medication.
Four strategies to deal with stress
Basically you have to deal with stress with the help of these four broad strategies.
1. Change stressful situations that are within your control.
2. Adapt to stressful situations which you cannot change.
3. Avoid stressful situations you can neither change nor control.
4. Accept stressful situations which you cannot change, to which you cannot adapt, which you cannot avoid and which are beyond your control by changing your thinking and attitude and developing proper outlook and philosophy.
Simple relaxation techniques
You can apply these four strategies creatively and intelligently in your daily life to deal with stressful situations. As part of these strategies, you can use the following simple relaxation techniques to reduce stress in your life.
1. Pause in between your busy moments
2. Breathe consciously, when you find time
3. Think when you have problems, instead of worrying.
4. Practice meditation to calm your mind.
5. Stay in the present when you are dealing with people and problems.
6. Set your priorities.
7. Become assertive.
8. Be expressive.
9. Learn to laugh.
10. Let go.
11. Sleep enough.
12. Eat healthy.
Remember, some stress is normal and unavoidable. Stress becomes a problem, when it begins to interfere with your thinking and actions, and when it effects your health. If the symptoms are there, then effective and remedial action is immediately required.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Young people should have everything to be happy about, but as the generation with the least responsibility we actually experience the most stress. A 2013 survey by the Nightline Association found that 65% of students feel stressed.
Students juggle part time jobs with university, worry about assignments and stress about the future and how to make the next step. Trying to manage all these things at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
As a student, every spare minute seems to be filled with worrying – you feel like you have to achieve something and make plans for your future. Instead of relaxing in the holidays, you're planning an internship to add to your CV, or working to earn some well-needed extra cash.
If you're not careful, working too hard and worrying too much can lead to "burnout" – when everything seems bleak and you have nothing left to give.
It might not seem like it when you're feeling down, but living a more stress free life is possible. There are some really easy ways to beat stress effectively. Here are some that I have encountered as a student:
1. A varied and healthy diet
Eating fresh ingredients and lots of fruit is really important. Juices filled with vitamin C, such as orange or grapefruit juice, are said to be good for your immune system so can help with stress.
When you're busy and tired it can be tempting just to grab another pizza or ready meal, but cooking from scratch can be therapeutic as well as being healthier.
Doing sport at least once a week is the best way to reduce stress. It helps your body produce endorphins, which make you feel good. Even daily walks of 30 minutes can help reduce stress levels but it's even better to work out intensively. Even if you don't feel like it at the time you will feel the benefits afterwards.
Joining a sports club could also help with stress as the regular contact with other people should help improve your mood.
And why not try yoga? It's a great way to ease your mind and relax your muscles.
It might sound simple, but sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day can really help with stress levels. If you've never tried meditation before, it's worth a go.
Good breathing techniques can put you in a more relaxed state as they send oxygen surging through your bloodstream, helping to calm you down and beat the stress.
4. Take breaks regularly
Short breaks between working can help you switch off. But longer breaks are important too.
How about taking the weekend off to relax? Make time for fun and for yourself even if this means that you have to schedule time away from your work. You'll hopefully come back to your work feeling fresh.
5. Get a pet
It is said that spending time with animals is good for your health. If you pat a dog for a couple of minutes, your body releases hormones that make you feel happy and can decrease the amount of stress in your system.
Most uni halls won't let you keep an animal though, so spending some time with friends or family who have pets is a good option: you get the love without the commitment.
6. Sleep (and sign off Facebook)
Sleep is always the best medicine and some people find that small 20-minute naps can help increase productivity.
As students we tend to spend too much time on social media sites and answering emails, texts and phone calls. Sociability is fun – but too much of it, and too much computer time, can lead to more stress.
Failing to switch off from work because of your electronic gadgets will only make you even more stressed.
7. Quit smoking
Some people say they smoke to relax, but researchers on the European Board for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco suggest that nicotine suppresses the hormone serotonin, which fights stress. Another good reason to quit.
8. Try to see the positive side
If you missed a deadline, try to appreciate what you learned from this mistake: now you know how to plan ahead. Things might seem bad, but if you try, there is usually something positive to be learned.
9. Listen to music
Listening to music can help calm you down and put you in a better frame of mind. If you're feeling stressed, putting on some calming music while you work could really help.
They say that laughter is the best medicine, and it's really true. Laughing out loud increases oxygen and blood flow which automatically reduces stress.
Not taking life too seriously can help everyone live a better and easier life. Make time for yourself, log out of Twitter and take breaks. It's about time that we students accept that we can achieve just as much in life without all the stress.
How do you manage stress? Share your tips in the comments section below