“I am really stressed out and I feel like killing myself” This was the shocking statement given to me by one of my patients while on teleconsultation recently. Well, who is not stressed out today? In the journey of life, everybody faces tough times sometime or another. Nobody is spared of the bitter experiences of want for eternal bliss and contentment. Covid-19 has brought a huge challenge to the healthcare industry and high-stress levels and burnout are topping the charts.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau, the total number of suicides is about 164,033 cases in 2021 in India alone. This is an alarming increase of 7.2% from previous years.
Another report from www.globalwire.com , the current world market size of antidepressants and mood enhancers, is estimated at around 15 billion US dollars and expected to reach 21 Bn USD by 2030 and the demand is ever-growing. Now, it seems it will be rising exponentially with the economic recession that has already hit certain parts of the world already.
Symptomatically, people may exhibit various types of characteristics that may be solitary or multiple. Many times, stress is also multi-layered just like the leaves of a cabbage, superficial and or deep-rooted.
Some of the most common ones are as below:
Getting easily agitated, frustrated, mood swings, feeling of worthlessness, poor judgment & impulsive behavior.
Palpitations, sweating, panic attacks, high blood pressure.
Headaches, lack of sleep.
Gastrointestinal issues like hyperacidity, reflux, and Irritable bowel syndrome.
Weight gain, binge eating disorders (anorexia nervosa & bulimia nervosa)
Deranged glucose metabolism, weakened liver, weak thyroid.
Weak immunity, recurrent cold & cough, asthma.
Hormonal disturbances, loss of libido.
Lack of energy, low concentration & memory issues.
Hyper-pigmentation of skin, allergies.
Persistent and prolonged stress can cause more harm than good. It can cause conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, sexual dysfunctions & even infertility, and untimely death.
What are the main causes of stress?
Now, let’s see some of the most common reasons for stress induced in our day-to-day life. They might be categorized as physical, mental, social, professional, or societal stress stimuli.
1. Relationship issue/ marital discord
2. Emotional disturbances (anger/grief/jealousy/depression)
3. Loss of Job & increased financial obligations.
4. Failure in examinations
5. Chronic illness / injury.
6. Traumatic life events/ abuses/ loss of a dear one / loneliness.
7. Workplace / domestic harassment, discrimination / performance pressures.
Is there a remedy in hand?
Let us call a spade a spade. There is NO MAGIC pill or remedy to tame this monster called- stress. It needs a multipronged approach to be very precise. Positive stress (Eustress) keeps us on our toes, makes us achieve targets, successful in life. It also makes our lives purposeful. But if too much of it drops down upon a person, it makes the situation worrisome and distressing. Achieving a work-life balance is really the key to happiness.
One must muster the courage to seek professional help in such matters, the sooner, the better. Talking to a friend or confiding to a counselor can really make a person feel lighter and release the built-up pressure. Timely intervention can lead not only to clarity in thoughts but can certainly change the whole course of life.
Some of the strategies that we advise our patients are as below:
1. Accept that you are stressed and need professional help. Many times people fail to understand and try to sort things on their own. This often leads to confusion and worsening of the overall situation. One must understand that had the person known how to take care, of stress wouldn’t have been in the first place. Acceptance also brings excess stress levels down naturally.
2. Take a pen and paper and start jotting down the list of issues. It will bring forth clarity of thoughts and later on strategies can be made to combat them.
3. Stop blaming yourself or keep ruminating about issues.
4. Prioritizing goals and priorities. Fix achievable goals first and later on scale it up. A very ‘hard to achieve goal’ can be a deterrent and can be very de-motivating.
5. Open communication means and engage in fruitful dialogue in the family. If the relationship is too toxic and beyond repair, just walk away for good.
6. If you feel stressed in the workplace, it's better to report it to superiors or authorities and look out for other alternate career paths.
7. Physical activity & meditation both help to relieve stress naturally. Physical activity will improve bodily functions and meditation will bring back concentration. It will also bring down the excess circulating sugar level produced by cortisol, back to normalcy.
8. Work on the daily routine, balanced diet, and modified lifestyle. Improve the quality of sleep. Remember, it’s the quality that matters and not the quantity.
9. At times, looking at a problem from different perspective works.
10. Spend time with what you love doing it. Practicing newer hobbies, like music, gardening, cooking, etc can really work out the magic.
11. Upskill your knowledge. This will help on both personal and professional sides.
12. Quit smoking and any form of addiction to alcohol or drugs. They don’t make situations better but rather worsen them.
So, let’s face it. The ultimate truth is that stress is inevitable, and it clearly depends upon an individual how he/she responds to these stimuli. A very famous scientist has often quoted that “Stress is like the tension of the strings of a violin. Too little produces noise, and too much breaks the string. An optimum level of tension on the strings produces music.” Another famous quote states “Stress acts as an accelerator: it will push you either forward or backward, but you choose which direction.”
So, let the power within you guide you to the right path. May you create more music and melodies from your lives rather than a mere dirge. Don’t let you being run down by life situations & problems rather face them boldly & courageously. Accept the limitations, work around what you have initially and work the way up naturally. Just believe in yourself and make the best use of the situation because the only person who can make a difference in your life is you, and you alone. Smile and take pride in yourselves because you are worth it.