Stress is one the most commonly heard word and by far the most misunderstood state of the human body. The reason being it is generally associated to be negative and bad for health. WHO pegs the number of suicides at 21.1 per 1,00,000 population globally. (https://www.who.int/india/health-topics/mental-health)
While this might be partially true, one needs to understand it better before arriving at a decision. In ayurveda, stress has been defined as the body’s natural defence mechanism which causes the body to release hormones and prepares it to evade or confront danger. The body produces larger quantities of hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These trigger physical reactions like increased blood pressure, heightened muscle preparedness, sweating and alertness.
Since this is an emergency state of the body some normal bodily functions, such as those that the digestive and immune systems perform get lowered and the body can then concentrate its resources on breathing, blood flow, alertness, and the preparation of the muscles for sudden use.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/) recognises two types of stress: Acute and Chronic.
Acute stress is short-term and usually the more common form of stress. It often develops when people consider the pressure of events that have recently occurred or face upcoming challenges in the near future. Acute stress does not cause the same amount of damage as long-term, chronic stress. Short-term effects include tension, headaches and an upset stomach, as well as a moderate amount of distress.
Chronic stress is the stress that develops over a long period and is more harmful. It occurs when a person can see no way to avoid their stressors and stops seeking solutions. It’s difficult for the body to return to a normal level of stress hormonal activity, which can lead to a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Chronic stress can also lead to longer term health concerns like depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)* (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855#causes)
Simple steps to mental health:
Stress needs management, whether it is positive news such as having a baby, going on vacation, moving to a better home, and getting a promotion at work or being in situations like Job loss, relationship issues, health issues etc.
It may sound simple but in life the simplest things are usually the most difficult to adapt and adhere to. However few Golden steps can help go a long way:
- Acknowledgment – It is most important to be mindful.
- Prioritise – Ask your self what is the most valuable thing in life.
- Take Charge – Eat Right, exercise or simply walk.
- Just talk it out – Have a conversation. It really helps.
- No point having Alcohol / substance abuse – Since the situation will only change once you take action.
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