Stress and How to Cope With It

Stress is a normal response to difficult situations. We often confuse it as some form of mental pressure caused due to our own inability to deal with things. But that’s not what it is. Stress is not an action, it’s a reaction. Stress is our reaction to various external factors.

Before we get to the whole coping part, first we need to understand a few things about stress that are essential.

1. Stress is not always bad

Stress is the body’s way of reacting to a challenge. When faced with a tough situation, there are a whole lot of reactions that the body goes through. Increased pulse rate, adrenaline boost, faster response to stimuli and among those, stress is one.

But the same stress that ‘stresses us out’, also makes us quicker and more prone to handle situations better. Stress makes us do our best. So it isn’t always a bad thing.

2. Stress varies from person to person

Some people are inherently calmer and more composed, compared to others. So, their reactions also are different. Stress levels change vastly across different people and are not to be compared at any stage.

If I can deal with a tough situation well that does not make another person’s stress or panic a bad thing. It is after all only a reaction.

3. Stress is not always an illness

There are a variety of stress related disorders. But just because a person is prone to stress, does not make them a patient. Stress disorders, like all other disorders are something that cannot be confirmed unless clinically diagnosed.

Thus, stress in daily life is as normal as it can be.

4. Stress always has a trigger

May not be something happening at the moment. Sometimes the trigger of stress goes back in time, that we don’t even recall the incident. That is because our mind is an expert at suppressing information that can be distressing. But no stress, ever comes without a trigger.

Stress that is positive or good for us in some way, is called Eustress and the one which makes us all panicky and unable to see straight is Distress.

Modern day MNCs encourage some amount of work stress to ensure that employees push ahead and don’t get too comfortable. Although as the position becomes more and more powerful, eustress becomes distress. Let us now look at some stress related disorders.

1. General Stress

This is your old school, before an exam, important day type of stress. It is so normal and so vastly experienced that if you don’t experience it, people think you’re a bit weird (in a good way of course!).

General stress requires nothing more than a few deep breaths and a cool glass of water. It goes away as fast as it came.

2. Acute Stress

This is in a way, the big brother of general stress. It is not in any way damaging, but it makes you completely frazzled and leaves you exhausted.

This would be the stress people experience when work load is doubled, during year end or when you study for a history test and get the math paper in hand. The situation is overloaded and so the brain becomes irritated and you start sweating and panicking.

Acute stress can also be dealt with the old ways, but the best thing to do is to simply let it pass.

3. Episodic Acute Stress

This is one of the serious types. It’s one thing to be stressed out, but something is off when a person gets worked out about almost everything. Even things that is not stressful. So be it their wedding day or their nothing day, there is something they will stress about.

For people with episodic stress, things get out of hand very quickly. Calm becomes chaos in the blink of an eye. They take on more than they can chew and at the moment of truth, they are about to explode.

Episodic stress patients are often studied for crisis management purposes just to get a grasp of how masses will respond to a situation.

4. Chronic Stress

While acute stress can be thrilling and exciting, chronic stress is not. This is the grinding stress that wears people away day after day, year after year. Chronic stress destroys bodies, minds and lives. It wreaks havoc through lives.

If you can imagine what the stress must be in a situation of war, then I assure, you can imagine what chronic stress is like. It requires medical help and proper treatment.

While Chronic Stress needs proper medical attention, the other forms of stress can be dealt with. One can even cultivate a habit to deal with it.

For people whose daily lives involve stress (stock brokers I see you!), these few tricks always come in handy.

Coping with stress

• Always, DEEP BREATHES. Don’t argue, simply follow. Breathe deeply and breathe often.

• Water. Drink it slowly and prolong the drink. Don’t gulp it all down and expect to be calm. The more time you take, the more time you get to process things.

• Use a stress ball. Those smiley faces aren’t a joke. They release tension from your muscles and that helps you relax physically.

• Be patient. Nothing is going to happen sooner than it is meant to, simply because you’re about to burst a nerve! Close your eyes and be patient.

• Be prepared, if you can. This is what you need to do before events that are inevitably going to happen (EXAMS). Be prepared well in advance. No stress.

• Count down from 100. With every number down, think like it’s one point of stress leaving your body. By the time you hit 0, you’ll be back to #1.

• Know you are human. Like seriously! There are limits to what you can and cannot achieve. So stop biting off more than you can chew. Accept only enough work and do it perfectly.

• Have some quiet time alone. Have some beverage (whatever you please) and let the negativity get out on its own.

To end, get this one right up there on your list of best quotes –

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

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