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section GaramChai features Medical articles by Dr.Kumaresh
is defined as any demand (force, pressure and strain) placed
on the body and the body’s reaction to it. Stress is experienced
by everyone who is living, working, and breathing at this
very moment. It is a fact of life you cannot avoid. All stress
is not bad. In small doses, stress can be a good thing. It
can give you the push you need, motivating you to do your
best and to stay focused and alert. Stress is what keeps you
on your toes during a presentation at work or drives you to
study for your midterm when you'd rather be watching TV. But
when the going gets too tough and life's demands
exceed your ability to cope, stress becomes a threat to both
your physical and emotional well-being and makes
you feel anxious, afraid, worried and uptight.
causes stress and its symptoms?
potential causes of stress are numerous. There are many major
events that occur in our lives: moving, leaving school, changing
jobs, and experiencing losses. We also face many "daily
hassles". These are events that occur routinely. Daily
hassles include events such as being stuck in traffic, deadlines
and conflicts with family members, and dealing with bust city
life. The causes of stress are highly individual. What you
consider stressful depends on many factors, including your
personality, general outlook on life, problem-solving abilities,
and social support system. Something that's stressful to you
may be neutral or even enjoyable to someone else. For example,
your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because
you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however,
may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough
time and enjoy playing music or listening to books while they
drive. Whether or not the source of stress causes significant
emotional and physical symptoms depends in part on the nature
of the stressor itself.
What are the possible signs and symptoms of stress?
affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways and has
the potential to harm your health, emotional well-being, and
relationships with others.
How stress can affect your mind
How stress can make you feel
- Memory problems.
- Difficulty making decisions.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Seeing only the negative.
- Repetitive or racing thoughts.
- Poor judgment.
- Moody and hypersensitive.
- Restlessness and anxiety.
- Anger and irritability
- Sense of being overwhelmed.
- Lack of confidence.
How stress can affect your body
How stress can affect your behavior
- Digestive problems.
- Muscle tension and pain.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Chest pain.
- High blood pressure.
- Weight gain or loss.
- Asthma or shortness of breath.
- Skin problems.
- Eating more or less.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Neglecting your responsibilities.
- Increasing alcohol and drug use.
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing).
- Teeth grinding or jaw clenching.
- Overdoing activities such as shopping.
- Losing your temper.
- Overreacting to unexpected problems.
in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can be caused
by other problems, so it’s important that you consult a doctor
to evaluate physical symptoms.
Can stress hurt my health?
stress response of the body is meant to protect and support
us. When faced with a threat, the body's defenses kick into
high gear. Our heart rate and blood flow to the large muscles
increase, the blood vessels under the skin constrict to prevent
blood loss in case of injury, the pupils dilate so we can
see better, and our blood sugar ramps up, giving us an energy
the modern world, most stressors are psychological, rather
than physical. Unfortunately, our bodies don't make this distinction.
The problem with the stress response is that the more it is
activated, the harder it is to shut off. Instead of leveling
off once the crisis has passed, the stress hormones, heart
rate, and blood pressure remain elevated. Extended or repeated
activation of the stress response takes a heavy toll on the
body. The physical wear and tear it causes includes damage
to the cardiovascular system and immune system suppression.
Stress compromises the ability to fight off disease and infection,
makes it difficult to conceive a baby, and stunts growth in
children. In an attempt to cope with stress, some people drink
too much alcohol, abuse drugs, blame others (e.g. spouse or
parent), and may become physically violent, most often with
Health Problems Linked to Stress
- Heart attack
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Memory loss
- Thyroid problems
How can I change my lifestyle habits to manage stress
Get enough sleep.
Connect with others and share your feelings.
Nothing beats aerobic exercise to dissipate the excess energy.
Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing
the effects of stress.
Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Take time to eat breakfast in the morning, it will help
keep you going throughout the day.
Reduce caffeine and sugar. You’ll feel more relaxed, less jittery or nervous, and you’ll sleep
Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. These lessen stress only temporary. Don’t mask the issue
at hand; deal with it head on and with a clear mind.
Do something for yourself everyday. Too much work is actually inefficient and can lead to
burnout. Recognize when you are most stressed and allow yourself
some reasonable breaks. Most importantly do things that make
How can I handle stress better?
Have realistic expectations: Know your limits. Whether personally or professionally,
be realistic about how much you can do. Set limits for yourself
and learn to say “no” to more work and commitments.
See problems as opportunities. As a result of positive thinking,
you will be able to handle whatever is causing your stress.
Refute negative thoughts and try to see the glass as half
full. Your thoughts can become like a pair of dark glasses,
allowing little light or joy into your life.
Maintain your sense of humor: This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The
act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up: In order to live a less stressful life, learn to calm
Don’t try to control events or other people: Many circumstances in life are beyond your control,
particularly the behavior of others. Consider that we live
in an imperfect world. Learn to accept what is, for now, until
the time comes when perhaps you can change things.
Ask yourself “Is this my problem?” If it isn't, leave it alone. If it is, can you resolve
it now? Once the problem is settled, leave it alone. Don't
agonize over the decision, and try to accept situations you
How can I meet the challenges
of stressful situations?
of the greatest sources of stress is over-commitment or poor
time management. If procrastination causes stress in your
life, learn to stop putting things off. Make a weekly schedule
and fill it with lots of time for leisure as well as work.
Give priority to the most important tasks and do those first: If a particularly unpleasant task faces you, tackle
it early in the day and get it over with. You will experience
less anxiety the rest of the day as a result. Most importantly,
do not overwork yourself. Resist the temptation to schedule
things back-to-back. All too often, we underestimate how long
things will take.
Delegate tasks and break up big projects: People who haven't learned to delegate often feel needlessly
stressed. Delegating isn't a matter of dictating to others;
it's asking others to assist you by doing tasks they can handle.
Break big projects into smaller, more manageable tasks so
you don’t feel overwhelmed and nothing gets done as a result.
going to bed, think about your problem and the various choices
you could make. Think about each choice clearly in your mind.
Tell yourself you're going to make the decision while you
sleep. You may not name the solution the next morning but
if you keep trying, you will eventually awaken with your mind
are some common techniques for stress relief?
often causes our breathing to be shallow, which nearly
always causes more stress because it puts less oxygen
in the bloodstream and increases muscle tension. The
next time you feel uptight, try taking a minute to slow
down and breathe deeply. Breathe in through your nose
and out through your mouth.
Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
exercises help reduce anxiety and stress. First, you
cause tension in certain muscle groups and then you
totally relax them. As the muscles relax, so does your
entire body, as well as your overstressed mind.
the mind to relax the mind, body and spirit. Take a
moment to close your eyes and imagine a place where
you feel relaxed and comfortable.
allows you to build up a natural response to stress
and bring the relaxed state more into your daily life.
When is professional help
a fine line between feeling stressed out while still being
able to function effectively and the debilitating, even paralyzing
phenomenon we think of as burnout. The difference is between
handling your stress on your own, and being unable to figure
out what to do because the pressures of life have become so
overwhelming. It's time to seek professional help if you:
- Feel that stress is affecting your health.
- Feel that it will never end.
- Feel so desperate that you think about quitting
your job, running away, taking a drug overdose or injuring
- Feel depressed, sad, tearful or that life is not
- Lose your appetite and find it difficult to sleep.
- Are managing your stress level by eating, sleeping,
drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking or using drugs.
- Have worries, feeling and thoughts that are difficult
to talk about.
- Hear voices telling you what to do.
for Dealing with Stress
is a normal reaction to events that threaten us. Such threats
can come from accidents, financial troubles and problems on
the job or with family. The way we deal with these pressures
has a lot to do with our mental, emotional and physical health.
following are suggestions to get you started on managing the
stress in your life:
- Look at your lifestyle and see what can be changed
-- in your work situation, your family situation, or your
- Use relaxation techniques - yoga, meditation or
- Exercise - Physical activity is one of the most
effective stress remedies around!
- Time management - Do essential tasks and prioritize
the others. Consider those who may be affected by your decisions,
such as family and friends. Use a check list so you will
receive satisfaction as you check off each job as it is
- Watch your diet - Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fats
and tobacco all put a strain on your body's ability to cope
with stress. A diet with a balance of fruits, vegetables,
whole grains and foods high in protein but low in fat will
help create optimum health.
- Get enough rest and sleep
- Talk with others - Talk with friends or family members
about what is bothering you
- Help others - Volunteer work can be an effective
and satisfying stress reducer
- Get away for awhile - Read a book, watch a movie,
play a game, listen to music or go on vacation. Leave yourself
some time that's just for you
- Work off your anger - Get physically active or start
- Give in occasionally - Avoid quarrels whenever possible
- Tackle one thing at a time - Don't try to do too
much at once.
- Don't try to be perfect
- Ease up on criticism of others
- Don't be too competitive
- Make the first move to be friendly
- Care for a pet -
Petting an animal can help reduce stress and lower blood
Krishnamoorthy, M.S (ENT)
Head and Neck Surgery Fellowship (Buffalo, USA)
Neurotology & Skull Base Surgery Fellowship (Cincinnati,
Senior Consultant in ENT - Head and Neck Surgeon and Skull
Apollo Hospitals, 154/11, Bannerghatta Road, BANGALORE 560
Phone: 91-(0) - 99002 36819