CONCEPT OF STRESS
Stress is an adaptive response. It is the wear and tear of our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment. It’ the body’s reaction to an event that is seen as emotionally disturbing, disquieting or threatening. When we perceive such an event, we experience what one stress researcher, walter cannon, called the ‘fight or flight response’. To prepare for fighting or fleeing the body increases its heart rate, blood pressure, more blood is sent to the heart and the muscles and the respiratory rate increases. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us into action: it results in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence; it results in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems like headache, upset of stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers etc.
The external stimuli, which trigger off a progressive series of physiological and emotional responses in the body, leading to the stress response are known as stressors.
SOME OF THE MAJOR STRESSORS IN LIFE ARE
- Death of a spouse
- Marital Seperation
- Jail term
- Personal injury or illness
- Death of a close family member
It has four components
Stressor: External threat / challenge / internal thought or worry
Strain: Internal struggle to maintain the homeostasis
Stress reaction: Emotional / Physical disruption in normal functioning
Steers coping: Process of dealing with stress reaction
Stressor – Strain – Stress reaction – Coping – Resolution or again repeating coping phase.
MAJOR TYPES OF STRESSORS
- Psychological :Attitude, personality, self-esteem and ethnicity
- Physical: Environment, nutrition, drugs and chemical
- Role : Role conflict / ambiguity, multiple roles
- Sociological: Political, Economic, Ethnic, Cultural,
STRESS AROUSAL STAGE
Persistent irritability and anxiety, bruxism and or insomnia occasional forgetfulness or inability to concentrate.
STRESS RESISTANT STAGE
Absenteeism or tiredness for work, tired and fatigued for no reason, procrastination and indecision, social withdrawal with cynicism, resentful. indifferent and defiant, increased use of coffee, alcohol, tobacco Etc.
* SEVERE EXHAUSTION STAGE
Chronic sadness or depression, chronic mental and physical fatigue, isolation and withdraw self – destructive thoughts.
The symptoms can be grouped into the following sections.
- Short term physical symptoms
- Short term performance effects
- Long term physical symptoms
- Internal symptoms
- Behavioral Symptoms
SHORT TERM PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS
These mainly occur as your body adapts to perceived physical thereat and are caused by release of adrenaline. Although you may perceive these as unpleasant and negative, they are signs that your body is ready for the explosive action that assists survival or high performance.
- Faster heart beat
- Increased Sweating
- Cool Skin
- Cold Hands and feet
- Feelings of nausea
- Rapid breathing
- Tense muscles
- Dry mouth
- Desire to urinate and diarrhoea are the symptoms of survival stress
SHORT TERM PERFORMANCE EFFECTS
While adrenaline helps you survive in a fight or flight situation, it does have negative effects in situations where this is not the case
- It interferes with clear judgement and makes it difficult to take the time to make good decisions.
- It Can seriously reduce your enjoyment of work
- Where you need good physical skills. It gets in the way of fine motor control.
- It causes difficult situations to be seen as a threat and not a challenge.
- It damages the positive frame of mind you need for high quality work by
- Promoting negative thinking
- Damaging self confidence
- Narrowing attention
- Disrupting focus and concentration
- Making it difficult to cope with distractions.
- It consumes mental energy in distraction, anxiety. frustration, temper.
LONG TERM PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS
These occur where your body has been exposed to adrenaline over a long period. One of the ways adrenaline prepared you for action is by diverting resources to the muscles from the areas of the body, which carry out body maintenance. This means that if you are exposed to adrenaline for a sustained period, your health may start to deteriorate. This may show up in the following ways:
- Change in appetite
- Frequent colds
- Digestive problems
- Skin eruptions
- Sexual disorders
- Feeling of intense
- Long term tiredness
Internal symptoms: of long term stress
When you are under stress or have been tired for a long period of time, you may find that you are less able to think clearly and rationally about problems. This can lead to internal emotional upsets like worry, anxiety, Confusion, inability to concentrate or make decisions, feeling ill, feeling out of control or overwhelmed by events, mood changes like depression, frustration, hostility, helplessness, impatience and irritability being more lethargic, difficulty in sleeping, drinking, more alcohol and more smoking, changing eating habits, reduced sex drive and relying more on medication.
BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS OF LONG TERM STRESS
- Talking too fast or too loud
- Fiddling and twisting
- Nail biting
- Grinding teeth
- Drumming fingers and pacing
- Bad moods like being irritable, critical and defensive.
- Reduced personal effectiveness like being more forgetful,
- Accident prone
- Changing work habits
- Increased absenteeism
POSSIBLE PHYSICAL DISORDERS CAUSED BY OR EXACERBATED BY STRESS.
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Respiratory disease
- Muscle tension problems
POSSIBLE EMOTIONAL DISORDERS CAUSED BY OR EXACERBATED BY STRESS
- Panic attack
- Adjustment Disorders
POSSIBLE BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS CAUSED BY OR EXACERBATED BY STRESS
- Conduct disorders
- Eating Disorders
The main basic factor in the development of stress disease appears to be mental trauma which produces overtaking of the excitation and inhibition process of the cerebral cortex. It can be acute, severe or moderate but repetitive which cannot be tolerated by the cerebral cortex. It acts as a trigger mechanism, which ultimately leads to the development of stress diseases. Most of these diseases are caused by the disturbance in the environmental factors which stimulate the exteroceptors to convey the excessive stimulation to the cerebral cortex. This may lead to development of stress disease.
For the practical purposes, kurtsin divided the cerebral cortex into three groups of cerebral centers with specific functions.
- Mental brain
- Somatic brain
- Visceral brain
Somatic brain which controls the action of voluntary muscles. Visceral brain is connected with the activity of the autonomic nerves supplying the internal organs. Any disturbance in these regions would produce marked changes in the function of the corresponding internal organs. This seems to be close collaboration between the nerves of somatic and autonomic nervous systems.
However, the psychic centres are more closely associated with somatic centre than the autonomic ally controlled visceral centres.
All such variations in response to mental trauma are considered to be due to individual differences in age, sex, occupation, personality, education, early life experience etc. This may ultimately lead to varying types of response such as some persons may become angry whereas others may become happy after receiving the same type of stress.
These emotional factors which have their centres in the limbic system connect the psychic centres above the hypothalamus below causing autonomic visceral disturbance leading to development of psychosomatic disorders.
Initially, psychosomatic disorders of internal organs take the form of periodic alteration of hypo and hyper activity. It may last for a few days or weeks or even for month
It seems that in the initial period of excitation of autonomic nerves, cholinergic nerves play a dominant role which is later on taken over by the adrenergic nerves. Therefore initial period of functional disturbances there occurs periodical overlapping and predominance of cholinergic and adrengeric nerve activity leading to hyper and hypo secretion of various internal organs. Later on, depending upon the genetic and environmental factors one of the two autonomic components settles down to produce the various pathological changes in one of the organs.
FOUR PHASES OF STRESS DISORDERS
- Psychic phase
- Psychosomatic phase
- Somatic phase
- Organic phase
PRINCIPLES OF THERAPY FOR STRESS DISORDERS
|1||Psychic||Nervousness, irritability sheepherders||Psychotherapy yogic practice
|2||Psycho somatic||Palpitation, High B.P Rapid pulse||Psychotherapy Yoga, Drugs
|3||Somatic||Hyper functioning of the organs||Yoga, psychotherapy Drugs – Specific medicine
|4||Organic||Symptoms of pathologically detectable lessons||Specific medicine or surgery
HOW TO MANAGE STRESS BETTER?
The following points are the major guidelines to be kept in the mind while trying to manage the stress.
- Become aware of your stressors and your emotional and physical reactions. Notice your distress and don’t ignore it. Determine which events distress you, and how your body responds to the stress.
- Recognize what you can change. See if you can change your stressor, by avoiding or eliminating them completely or of you can reduce their intensity. See if you can shorten your exposure to stress.
- Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress. Work at adopting more moderate views try to see the stress as something you cope with, rather than something that overpowers you. Try to temper your excess emotions, and put the situation in perspective.
- Learn to moderate your physical reaction to stress. Slow deep breathing will bring your heart rate and respiration back to normal. Relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension.
- Build your physical reserves. Moderate, rhythmic, prolonged exercise is the best such as walking, swimming cycling or jogging. Eat well balanced nutrition’s meals. Maintain your ideal weight. Avoid nicotine, excursive caffeine and other stimulants. Mix leisure with work. Take breaks and get away when you can. get enough sleep. Be as consistent with your sleep schedule as perusable.
- Maintain your emotional reserves. Develop some mutually supportive friendships / relationships. Pursue realistic goals, which are meaningful to you, rather than goals others pursue, and you do not share, Expect some frustrations, failures and sorrows.