Let’s talk about Stress, shall we?

By Bhumika Vikam

We once heard a small 6-year-old child scream at her mother by saying ‘Mum, Can you stop bothering me… I am stressed!’

This came as a shocker to me. The word ‘stress’ has become so common these days that shockingly even little children are using it. But are we really aware of stress and can manage it accurately?

This National Stress Awareness month, we at The Lifestyle Portal got in touch with some mental health professionals to talk about the same. Here is the first interview from our series. We interviewed Gaurang Chandarana, the National Yoga Expert holding multiple certifications in the field of health, yoga and fitness who is also the founder of Abhisti.com and Wellzee.com.

Defining stress

According to Gaurang, stress is nothing but either of or a combination of the following:

  1. a) Expectations mismatching in any aspect of life,
  2. b) Non-acceptance of ‘unpleasant’ situations as per one’s beliefs or views
  3. c) The perception of inability to be able to cope with certain situations which one views as negative or unwanted.

He says, “Life is not possible without stress. The only perfect stress-free life is one when you are dead.” But this is where the onus lies upon us to manage it and not let it affect our health.

The issue

“Once we realise that everything affects us in its entirety, we will automatically start understanding the impact of stress. The solutions to manage stress rests in this very awareness or realization. If we know what impacts us in a certain area of our life that is good enough. The solutions to manage occur without too much effort. The problem is that we actually know what is affecting us negatively and choose to ignore it”, says Gaurang.

He further adds, “Everyone wants to ‘fit in’ and follow popular notions of looks, body, behaviour, success and so on. So even if one knows something is harmful to him/her, they will still continue to do it. such as? any example? We have stopped appreciating diversity and loving ourselves and that is the issue.”

Previous generations v/s us

The more ‘progress’ we make, the greater are the stress levels. These will, in fact, keep increasing exponentially.  There are many reasons for this if we look at a ‘past v/s present’ comparison. Some indicative reasons are:

  1. Pollution causes stress– Artificial light, electronic waves, noise, ‘blue light’, environment pollution, food additives, water pollution and so on.
  2. Distancing from nature – The closer we are to nature, the lesser is stress. We are now moving in just the opposite direction.
  3. Unreasonable expectations – Our expectations of success, relationships or work are not based on our unique individual natures and abilities but on what are the most prevailing popular notions or marketing gimmicks.
  4. Technology and medicine overuse – Technology and medical sciences are taking away our ability to think for ourselves and figure out what is good for us. For instance, there have been researches which show that the more the technology and ‘medical advances’ higher is the incidence of chronic illnesses, terminal illnesses and non-communicable diseases including heart attacks.

Don’t let stress get the better of you.

Symptoms of stress

There are multiple symptoms at different levels which are very obvious either to the individual or to someone who knows the person. Some of them are:

  •    Changes in Health
  •    Changes in eating habits
  •    Changes in sleep habits
  •    Changes in behaviour
  •    Picking up ‘bad habits’ (bad for you not from a good-bad argument)
  •    Changes in emotional states – too happy, too sad, irritation, anger, too much love, mood swings, etc.
  •    Lack of ability to make constant changes or adjustments as required.

Causes and effects of stress

Gaurang believes, “Emotions are the only triggers. There are no external triggers. I am saying this based on working with and counselling many individuals. If you start feeling ‘low’, a bit sad, irritation, anger, hopelessness, possessiveness, jealousy, excessive love, paranoia, anger and so on; these are the triggers. These start subtly or gradually and before you realize, they cause acute stress. We then find excuses outside of us.”

“It is now scientifically proven that more than 90% of all diseases including many cancers are caused by stress, specifically mental stress. So the effects are on all fronts – health, relationships, financial, reduction in self-worth, addiction, violence, etc”, adds Gaurang.

Tips for managing stress

Here are some tips by Gaurang-

  •    Eat and drink healthy, this is very crucial.
  •    When stressed, eat less, have more of healthy fluids.
  •    For at least 15 minutes a day, sit alone (at home or in any stationary place). Avoid watching television, working, listening to music or doing anything at all. Just relax with your eyes shut.
  •    Communicate less, especially avoid social media, phone calls etc.
  •    Sleep for at least 8 hours daily. If you can’t sleep, then lie down with eyes shut and lights off for as long as possible.

Prevention is better than cure

Here is what Gaurang suggests for preventing stress:

  •    The only way to prevent stress is managing your mind and thought processes. The other important aspect is leading a healthy lifestyle which has exercise, work, recreation and a balanced diet.
  •    Your stress cannot be managed by someone else at any stage. Only you have to deal with your stress. One can take help from family members or friends in case you feel you are having a problem coping up. But only the individual can tackle it.

Identify the trigger and strengthen yourself from within

Helping someone deal with stress

Stress does not tend to only affect one person; its effects tend to spill over to the people around them. Here is how Gaurang thinks we can help someone in stress:

He says, “The key thing is what I call building a culture of ‘open communication’. This involves:

  1. Encouraging people to talk with each other. Thoughts, feelings, emotional states; but no gossiping
  2. Listening and figuring out what is the root cause. We all talk and hear but do not listen.
  3. Offering assistance but not giving advice or trying to convince them about your views and solutions. Show you are there and let them open out. Sooner or later, the trust builds up and workable joint solutions will definitely emerge.
  4. Do not be judgmental or view their problems as minor or small.
  5. Never compare with anyone, even yourself.
  6. In short, be a true and patient friend.

Gaurang signs off by giving a message to our readers this National Stress Awareness Month, “Learn to love yourself and lead your life with joy. Learn to talk to someone if you feel something is bothering you. And remember, that everything else falls into place once you do this.”

Gaurang Chandrana is a National Yoga and Health Expert. He is an MMS certificate holder with 17 years of experience in the BFSI sector, who made Yoga his life and career both. You can read more about him here – Changing lives through the goodness of Yoga.

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