Stress generally refers to a state of mind or mental tension that is linked to anxiety, irritability, insecurity, mental disorders like depression or insomnia and physical ones like migraine, cardiovascular ailments and sexual dysfunction. It occurs in the presence of an external stimulus called the stressor. Usually factors like work pressure, personal commitments and working environment act as common stressors in daily life. Our body can handle stress with a mechanism called fight-or-flight response, where certain hormones are released to combat stress. But when the levels of these hormones are increased, several organs and systems of the body may get affected. Increased stress levels commonly affects the immune system, musculoskeletal system, circulatory system and digestive system.It is also linked to heart disease, diabetes and gastro-intestinal disorders. There’s a causal link between stress and physiological ailment. However the fact that many individuals remain healthy after stressful events suggests that susceptibility varies from person to person based on genetic, environmental and psychological factors. In this section, you can read some interesting ways to handle stress like laughter yoga, natural remedies, healthy food and water.
Everyone is different and tend to react differently to situations, but broadly, stress can be caused due to problems at the workplace, problems at home or even sudden changes in life. Bereavement or the death of a loved one is also one of the most leading causes of stress.
While the stimulus for the onset of stress could be different for all, the extent and severity of the condition depends on your innate strength to bear a problem. Therefore the stronger a person (mentally) the less likely he/she is to suffer from it.
According to Dr Gorav, ‘Stress can manifest in mainly two forms – physical and psychological. Psychological symptoms include anxiety, depression, aggressiveness, restlessness, panic attack, mood swings, etc.
Sometimes due to extreme stress people tend to become increasingly silent, or can react in a manner opposite to his/her normal behaviour. Physically the symptoms seen affect various parts of our body. For instance when stress affects the nervous system, a person would experience constant headaches, in the gastrointestinal system the person might experience reduced appetite, stomach upset or pain, and in case of the respiratory system one may experience difficulty breathing.
Stress also affects the heart and can lead to a rise or a sudden fall in BP and possibly a heart attacks. It can affects one’s sexual life as well. Other physical problems one can face is body ache and muscle aches as well’
Apart from these symptoms there are many more symptoms that affect every system in the body. According to the American Institute of Stress, a person may experience symptoms like frequent headaches, bouts of jaw clenching, tremors, trembling of lips, etc.
Read more about the 10 most common symptoms of stress
According to Dr Gorav, ‘Ignoring it and living without dealing with the condition can leave you with many physical and psychological conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, PCOD, menstrual disturbance, headache, eating disorder, weight loss and even IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).’
Apart from that it can also lead to the development of heart disease and hypertension. (Read: A mega-guide for understanding stress and dealing with it)
Stress can affect the functioning of immune system drastically, affecting the defense mechanism against infections. Here are a few natural remedies that can help you combat stress or deal with it in a healthy way.
Herbs: Herbs such as cardamom (elaichi), aswagandha, jatamansi, guduchi, brahmi, tulsi and shankhpushpi, lettuce, celery, peppermint, chamomile and fennel (saunf) have amazing relaxing properties. Make these a part of your diet by adding it to your tea.
Oil massage: According to Ayurveda, oil massage is an easy way of de-stressing the body as well as the mind. For even better relaxation, mix in a little powder of shankhpushpi or brahmi into the oil you use for the massage.
Cut down alcohol: Alcohol tends to increase feelings of anxiety and stress. Cut down on your intake of such beverages and you are sure to observe your stress levels becoming much more manageable.
Breathing: A lack of proper breathing technique reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain which is a major reason for increasing stress levels. Wherever you feel stressed you should breathe in slowly and deeply a few times. Feel your stomach and chest expand as you inhale, and fall as you exhale.
The content has been verified by
Dr Gorav Gupta
, Director and Psychiatrist, Tulasi Healthcare (Rehabilitation Centre