Stress is a major problem for many people; a hectic, stressful job, a chaotic home life, bills to worry about, and bad habits such as unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking can lead to a mountain of stress. Stress was generally considered as being synonymous with distress and dictionaries defined it as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension” or “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.” Thus, stress was put in a negative light and its positive effects ignored.
However, stress can be helpful and good when it motivates people to accomplish more. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between stressors. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds.
Many different things can cause stress- from physical such as fear of something dangerous to emotional such as worry over your family or job. Identifying what may be causing stress is often the first step in learning how to better deal with stress. Some of the most common sources of stress are- survival stress, internal stress, environmental stress & fatigue and overwork. Stress, in everyday terms, is a feeling that people have when they are overloaded and struggling to cope with demands. These demands can be related to finances, work, relationships, and other situations, but anything that poses a real or perceived challenge or threat to a person’s well-being can cause stress. Stress can be a motivator. It can be essential to survival. The “fight-or-flight” mechanism can tell us when and how to respond to danger. However, if this mechanism is triggered too easily, or when there are too many stressors at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful.
Stress can affect both our body and mind. People under large amounts of stress can become tired, sick, and unable to concentrate or think clearly. Sometimes, they even suffer mental breakdowns. Physical effects of stress on the body can include- sweating, fainting, headache, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleeping difficulties, stomach upset etc. Emotional reactions can include anger, anxiety, burnout, concentration issues, depression, fatigue, a feeling of insecurity etc. Behaviours linked to stress include food cravings and eating too much or too little, sudden angry outbursts, drug and alcohol abuse, higher tobacco consumption etc. Some situations will affect some people and not others. Past experience can impact how a person will react. Sometimes, there is no identifiable cause. Mental health issues, such as depression, or an accumulated sense of frustration and anxiety, can make some people feel stressed more easily than others. Some people experience ongoing stress after a traumatic event, such as an accident or some kind of abuse. This is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those who work in stressful jobs, such as the military or the emergency services, will have a debriefing session following a major incident, and they will be monitored for PTSD.
Stress is the body’s natural defence against predators and danger. It flushes the body with hormones to prepare systems to evade or confront danger. This is known as the “fight-or-flight” mechanism. When we are faced with a challenge, part of our response is physical. The body activates resources to protect us by preparing us either to stay and fight or to get away as fast as possible. The body produces larger quantities of the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These trigger an increased heart rate, heightened muscle preparedness, sweating, and alertness. All these factors improve the ability to respond to a hazardous or challenging situation. Factors of the environment that trigger this reaction are called stressors. Examples include noises, aggressive behaviour, a speeding car, scary moments in movies, or even going out on a first date. The more stressors we experience, the more stressed we tend to feel. Stress slows normal bodily functions, such as the digestive and immune systems. All resources can then be concentrated on rapid breathing, blood flow, alertness, and muscle use.
A doctor will normally diagnose stress by asking the patient about symptoms and life events. A doctor or psychiatric specialist can often help, for example, through stress management training. Stress management can help you to remove or change the source of stress, alter the way you view a stressful event, lower the impact that stress might have on your body learn alternative ways of coping, Stress management therapy pursues one or more of these approaches. Techniques for stress management can be gained from self-help books, online resources, or by attending a stress management course. A counsellor or psychotherapist can put you in touch with personal development courses, or individual or groups therapy sessions. Therapies that may help you relax include aromatherapy or reflexology.
Some insurance providers cover this type of treatment, but not all. Check first. Doctors will not usually prescribe medications for coping with stress, unless the patient has an underlying illness, such as depression or a type of anxiety. In that case, the doctor is treating a mental illness and not the stress. In such cases, an antidepressant may be prescribed. However, there is a risk that the medication will only mask the stress, rather than help you deal and cope with it. Antidepressants can also have adverse effects. Developing some coping strategies before stress hits can help you manage new situations and maintain your physical and mental health. If you are already experiencing overwhelming stress, seek medical help.
People can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives. We may want to begin and follow some tips. We must keep a positive attitude, and accept that there are events that we cannot control. We should be assertive instead of aggressive, and to assert one’s feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive, again to learn and practice relaxation techniques and try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi, exercise regularly. Our body can fight stress better when it is fit. We should eat healthy, well-balanced meals, learn to manage our time more effectively, set limits appropriately and say no to requests that would create excessive stress in our life, make time for hobbies and interests, getting enough rest and sleep. Our body needs time to recover from stressful events; we should not rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviours to reduce stress, seek out social support, spending enough time with those we love.
In the Developed countries, stress is well managed on humanitarian ground. They have their stress management centre and well organised institutions. But in Bangladesh it is absent. To save our people from over stress, national stress management centre should be launched by govt. and in this regard, the role model expertise from abroad like UK, USA may be hired and purchased. If this is not looked into well, one day it may turn to a big issue, that is, the nation may face high risk and vulnerabilities. Again if it is ignored today, it would be a great loss and cause havoc to nations tomorrow. So, in order to maintain distress and disturbance free life stress management is the most indispensable and demand of the time.
The writer is the Deputy Director General & Commandant (PRL), Ansar-VDP Academy, Safipur, Gazipur