March 21, 2023


Truth Triumphs

Stress – the health epidemic.

GUEST COLUMN: Dr. N Prabhudev

Bengaluru, March 11: Stress sucks and yet it has become part of our daily lives. I am too stressed out – the phrase has become too common over the years – global average is 35%.. When the pressure of stress is severe and long, the individual’s ability to think, feel, and act is affected. Over 90% of disease and illness is lifestyle and stress related – not genetics.

Stress hormones shut down the immune system making us vulnerable to disease, infection and hypertension, Diabetes and cancer. Stress costs business in trillions of dollars in absenteeism, low productivity, and healthcare costs.

Stress is the non-specific response of the body to any enhanced demand made upon it. Stress occurs when pressure exceeds one’s perceived ability to cope. Let us debunk one myth- stress is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Eustress—positive stress— without this brilliant ability to feel stress, humankind wouldn’t have survived.
Stress is primarily a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for action. Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure.

Are we happy?
Truth is human existence in most times and places are a mixed bag of good and not so good! In the past our place in the community was secure. Our skills were valued. Today our place is not secure. There’s a lot of competition. We can be replaced. And there’s almost always someone better.
110 million people die every year as a direct result of stress and its consequences. That is, seven die every two seconds.
Burnout and stress are at an all-time high across professions. Many reach a breaking point and sink into depression. It often shows up in bodily symptoms. Stress response is very vital for survival- fight or flight mode – mediated by stress hormones. Often Stress results in better performance. In the first part stress actually improves our efficiency. But past a certain point, the reverse occurs: ongoing stress impedes our effectiveness.

Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, Diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, fears, phobias and overeating, smoking, alcohol and drug use all are either caused by or made worse by Stress.

• The heart beats harder and faster. Breathing gets hyper, mouth goes dry and muscles get tense. We start sweating, headaches, dizziness, clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth are common. Nervous, anxious, tense and jittery, restless or agitated, irritable and frustrated, short-tempered , may slow down, feeling flat and depressed

• Nail biting, drinking, blaming or swearing. Some people pace back and forth.
How to cope with stress?
The goal is stress reduction, not stress elimination. There’s no such thing as a stress-free life. Maintain work-life balance. Enjoy leisure activity. Avoid burnout. Delegate the work judiciously. It’s easy to push ourselves beyond limits! This burns you out! From the food we eat to the air we breathe, our bodies are under siege by the toxins and chemicals.
Learn to Say No – less pressure and more time and better control of life. Sleep and sleep well. Smile and Keep smiling. Emotions are contagious.
Take a Few Deep Breaths. Your body calms down. Try 4-7-8 breathing. Sit with your back straight. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat this for five minutes.
Exercise won’t make your stress disappear. It reduces the intensity.
Take control – Loss of control is one of the main causes of stress.
Stay connected, relax and relive stress.
Say no to alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping.
Help others. Help yourself.
Work smarter not harder.
Say Thank You. Practice gratitude. Gratitude is linked to 23 percent lower levels of the stress hormone – cortisol.

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