“I am not able to perform…”, “I’m not hungry; I am not able to concentrate “
The person at the other end could be your best friend from your institute, or even you. Most of the times, we tend to forget about these symptoms as soon as they disappear. But beware; these are but a few of the classical symptoms of a physical and psychological problem… ‘Stress.’
Stress can mean different things to different people. To an engineer, it is the force per unit area of an element, to a linguist, stress is the emphasis given to certain syllables, while to a doctor, stress is the response of the human body to strong external or internal stimuli.
Stress is the most common modern ailment that affects the young and the old alike. When we are stressed, our bodies elicit extreme responses, such as anger, anxiety, sleeplessness, hyperactivity, distraction, detachment and even depression. Modern children seem more affected than those a few generations ago. There is hope yet to live and enjoy a near stress -free life if we take remedial steps at the appropriate time.
This brings us to the point…is all stress bad stress? The answer is no. Some amount of stress is necessary in our lives. Stress is the natural way of preparing itself for a fight or flight reaction, it is what keeps us on our toes while preparing for an important exam. Instead of wilting under stress, we can use it as a positive impetus to achieve success. Under stress, the brain is biochemically and emotionally sharpened to give its maximum performance. Then why to see the stress in a negative light at all? Well that’s because like most things in this world, too much of stress is bad, and that is what we have to safeguard ourselves against.
As stated above, stress is the response of the body to strong stimuli. Let us see what exactly we mean by this. When the brain perceives a stressful situation developing, it releases stress hormones like adrenaline, the heart rate and blood pressure increase, the blood vessels below the skin constrict to prevent loss of blood in case of injury, our pupils dilate to give us clearer vision and the blood sugar level goes up giving us an energy boost. But the problem once again is that the more this response is activated, the harder the body finds to switch it off. Even after the stressful situation is over, the blood pressure and heart rates remain high along with the concentration of stress hormones in the blood.
The exam stress usually starts with parents themselves, who are earnestly and sincerely concerned with their children’s welfare, and pass on this stress unwittingly. They go on adding to it and then expect their children, to be stress free during examination. Parents need to realize this fact that the children cannot remain relaxed until they themselves are.
Let’s look at a few very simple methods to alleviate stress:
1. Breathing exercise: Make sure you are in a comfortable position. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four. Exhale to your mouth for a count of eight (or longer than the time you took to inhale). Relax your shoulders, neck and stomach muscles as you exhale.
2. Arm Stretch: Raise your hands above your head, fingers interlaced, and palms facing up. Push up as far as you can, but don’t strain yourself too much. Hold for 10 seconds and let go. Repeat 5 times.
3. Head and neck roll: Relax your shoulders, and let your chin drop towards your chest. Slowly rotate your head in circles without straining the neck. Repeat 5 times. Change the direction of rotation and repeat 5 more times.
Apart from these simple exercises, the following pointers are also useful for the control of stress :
1. Don’t over schedule: Take up only that much work which you can finish within the deadline. Drop the unimportant tasks.
2. Ask for help: In case you get stuck with your course work, never hesitate to ask for help. Nobody is perfect. Make mistakes and learn from them instead of worrying about getting everything right at the first shot.
3. Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep recharges the body and prepares it well for the rigors of the coming day. You must sleep for 6-8 hours per day.
4. Relax: Include at least one relaxing activity on your daily schedule. For example, play your favorite musical instrument or your favorite sport, read comics, sketch something etc.
5. Eat well: Give your body the fuel it requires to function at its best. Try and avoid junk food while stocking up on the nutritious food like cereals, green vegetables, fish, sprouts etc.
6. Manage your time: As a rule, give up procrastination. You will be amazed to find how relaxed you are when your work is completed in time.
In conclusion, we must realize that both, factors causing stress and methods to overcome it are present within us.
It is up to us to recognize the factors which lead to stress and work on overcoming them, or, to identify the activities which relax us and include more of them in our daily lives. We have to learn to be optimistic and use stress in a positive way to get motivated and reach our goals.