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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Mental and Behavioural Disorders Can You Handle Stress?

Can You Handle Stress?

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As the Indian cricket team lifted the World Cup 2011, captain M S Dhoni and ace batsman Sachin Tendulkar enthusiastically acknowledged the role of their mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton in their feat. Their fans lauded skipper M S Dhoni as

Answer the following questions and give yourself points as follows:

4 = Always, 3 = Often, 2 = Sometimes, 1 = Never
  1. 1. Do you feel guilty if you cannot fulfill other people's expectations.
  2. 2. Do you find it difficult to sleep on the night before an important interview/meeting.
  3. 3. Do you try to do as many things as possible in minimum time.
  4. 4. Do you show little patience with people who are not doing their job well.
  5. 5. Do you feel awfully frustrated when you have to stop at a traffic signal.
  6. 6. Do you often interrupt other people while talking or finish their sentence.
  7. 7. Do you miss important personal commitments for work.
  8. 8. Do you strive for perfection in whatever you do.

Now add up your score and evaluate your response to stress:

  1. > 24: You are the perfect victim of the stress bomb. Manage stress rather than letting it ruin the quality of your life.
  2. 19-24: You try to beat stress but stress beats you more often than you like. Managing stress can surely help you get ahead in the game.
  3. 12-18: Great! You are pretty much like captain cool. Your balanced attitude towards stressful situations helps you come out a winner.
  4. < 12: You appear relaxed but maybe you are a bit too laid back, which is not exactly great to get you ahead in life. Respond positively to stress rather than running away from it.

Causes and Physiology of Stress


Stress need not be caused by extraordinary situations, such as a billion people expecting you to win the World Cup. For most of us stress is caused by the many demands of everyday life. Sometimes stress can be due to a single major cause such as a relationship problem or an upcoming examination. People usually describe stress as a feeling of being under too much pressure or being overwhelmed.


Unlike what you may think stress is not "all in your head". It causes physiological changes in your body. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, a mechanism devised by nature to help you respond appropriately in stressful situations (such as run away from a tiger!). However, modern life unfortunately causes this activation too often and for too long. Stress causes release of stress hormones in your body, increases your heart rate, and makes you feel nervous. Constant stress can suppress your immune system and make you more prone to diseases such as heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, accelerated ageing and even premature death.


Quick fixes for managing stress


Bursting with stress right now? Try these quick fixes to relax. No matter how busy you are, take out few minutes to calm yourself. If you are able to focus, you will save a lot more time.

  1. Look at a favorite picture: It could be your child, your spouse, your mom, a deity you worship, or even a celebrity you admire. Just gaze for a few minutes and tell yourself you have a life beyond the immediate issue causing stress.
  2. Laugh it away: Look at a funny video, read a joke, talk to a witty and gossipy colleague. Laughter is therapeutic. It increases oxygen supply and blood flow and reduces stress hormone levels.
  3. Drink a glass of orange juice, savoring each sip: The sweetness and Vitamin C work together to bring down the stress hormones.
  4. Take a brisk walk: Brisk walking will take your mind off the problem and the feel-good endorphins released in your brain will help you calm down.
  5. Drink lemon tea: Avoid coffee: Coffee can make you feel more nervous or anxious. Sip some lemon tea to calm down.

Reducing stress at workplace


One of the most frequently cited cause of workplace stress is tight deadlines. Here are some tips to help keep stress levels low in such a situation.

  1. Make a list, prioritize and postpone: Ok so you already had a long list of things planned for the week and now this high priority project has suddenly fallen in your lap. Make a list of all the things you planned to do. See how many can be put-off for some time and finish the urgent ones before you plunge into the assignment. For e.g., pay the credit card bill but postpone the car servicing. Do not try to be a superman/ superwoman by stretching yourself too thin.
  2. Involve your family: Let your family know you are in the midst of something urgent rather than becoming unavailable without notice. Promise to make up for the family time lost once you are through.
  3. Have reasonable expectations: Know your limits. Do your best in the time available, but don't get overwhelmed in order to achieve perfection.
  4. Say "no" in time: Commit to a job only if you are reasonably sure of carrying it through in the time available. Say "no" before panic sets in for you and your team.

Lifestyle changes to manage stress

  1. Eat right: The kind of diet that is good for your body is also great for your mind. This means a diet rich in fruits, leafy green vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Eating junk food may take your mind off a problem in the short term but doesn't help in the long run. Nutritious food is necessary for good stamina, memory and concentration, which increases your productivity and helps reduce stress. Poor diet causes fatigue and irritability and complicates stressful situations.
  2. Exercise: Exercise not only keeps weight off your body but also your mind. It releases endorphins that counteract the effect of stress hormones. In a research, people who exercised regularly reported improved confidence, self-esteem, and more positive attitude.
  3. Practice deep breathing and meditation: Deep breathing and meditation have been scientifically proven to counteract the changes produced by stress in the body. It not only helps you tackle stress better but also protects against the harmful effects of stress on your body.
  4. Get organized: If you cannot avoid multi-tasking (who can!), you have no option but to get organized. Rather than having a confused bunch of to-dos whirling in your head, put them down on paper. Assign time to each with reasonable margins so that if a task takes longer than you planned you don't have your pulse racing. Make use of calendars, reminders, and auto-pay options wherever you can. And yes, do assign time to reduce clutter.
  5. Take up community work: Try to get involved in some charitable work on your weekends. Helping someone in need increases your sense of self-worth. It clears your perspective about problem because you may realize that your problems are infinitely smaller than those faced by many other people. It may also help by keeping you away from spending too much time and money on wasteful things that actually add to your stress.