Stress is a body reaction to any demands or changes in its internal and external environment. Whenever there is a change in the external environment such as temperature, pollutants, humidity and working conditions, it leads to stress. In these days of competition when a person makes up his mind to surpass what has been achieved by others, leading to an imbalance between demands and resources, it causes psycho-social stress. It is a part and parcel of everyday life.
Stress has a different meaning, depending on the stage of life you are in. The loss of a toy or a reprimand from the parents might create a stress shock in a child. An adolescent who fails in the examination may feel as if everything has been lost and life has no further meaning. In an adult the loss of his or her companion, job or professional failure may appear as if there is nothing more to be achieved.
Such signs appear in the attitude and behaviour of the individual, as muscle tension in various parts of the body, palpitation and high blood pressure, indigestion and hyperacidity. Ultimately the result is self-destructive behaviour such as eating and drinking too much, smoking excessively, relying on tranquilisers. There are other signs of stress such as trembling, shaking, nervous blinking, dryness of throat and mouth and difficulty in swallowing.
The professional under stress behaves as if he is a perfectionist. It leads to depression, lethargy and weakness. Periodic mood shifts also indicate the stress status of the students, executives and professionals.
In a study sponsored by World Health Organisation and carried out by Harvard School of Public Health, the global burden of diseases and injury indicated that stress diseases and accidents are going to be the major killers in 2020.
The heart disease and depression – both stress diseases-are going to rank first and second in 2020. Road traffic accidents are going to be the third largest killers. These accidents are also an indicator of psychosocial stress in a fast-moving society. Other stress diseases like ulcers, hypertension and sleeplessness have assumed epidemic proportions in modern societies.
A person under stress reacts in different ways and the common ones are flight, fight and flee depending upon the nature of the stress and capabilities of the person. The three responses can be elegantly chosen to cope with the stress so that stress does not damage the system and become distress.
When a stress crosses the limit, peculiar to an individual, it lowers his performance capacity. Frequent crossings of the limit may result in chronic fatigue in which a person feels lethargic, disinterested and is not easily motivated to achieve anything. This may make the person mentally undecided, confused and accident prone as well. Sudden exposure to un-nerving stress may also result in a loss of memory. Diet, massage, food supplements, herbal medicines, hobbies, relaxation techniques and dance movements are excellent stress busters.