If not managed effectively, stress can cause serious damage to the body over time. It can cause frequent headaches, bloating, fatigue, anger and stomach problems, among others.
Researchers found that stress reduces the volume of grey matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
By Daphne Clarance: We all go through stressful conditions in our daily lives. However, prolonged periods of stress can have some serious emotional and physical consequences. Sometimes, taking action or being proactive to reduce stress levels could take a lot of effort.
Stress is a common reaction that you experience when going through certain changes in situations. Researchers at Yale University found that stress reduces the volume of grey matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control. This means that experiencing stress might make it difficult to deal with future stress since it diminishes your ability to take control of the situation.
Which is why managing stress is important. According to Dr Minakshi Manchanda, Associate Director, Psychiatry, Asian Hospital, managing stress is a high priority as it can keep unexpected stress from causing damage.
"Stress can affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Though we can deal with stress, when it goes beyond a point, there are various symptoms that begin to show. In the hypothalamus part of the brain, the pituitary gland actively deals with problems. When there is stress, it releases chemicals like cortisol. In this, either there is a fight or a flight response. If enough cortisol is produced, then we are able to deal with that problem. It's like fighting. If we're not able to deal with it, then the brain goes into a flight response," Dr Manchanda said.
HOW STRESS AFFECTS THE BODY
- Frequent headaches
- Muscle tension
- Body pain
- Inexplicable fatigue
- Stomach problems
- Bloating and acidity
- Either too much sleep or no sleep at all
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Unable to concentrate on any task
- Crying and irritability
- Anger and negative thoughts
HOW TO MANAGE STRESS?
The good thing about the brain is that it has the ability to mould, change and rebuild damaged areas as you practice new behaviours. Implementing a healthy stress-relieving regime should train your brain to handle stress effectively and reduce the symptoms even in the near future.
Breathing exercises: Do some breathing exercises to calm the body and the muscles. One can also practice relaxation techniques like massage, meditation, yoga, music therapy, aromatherapy etc.
Learn to say no: Most people overcommit to tasks that ultimately have too much on their plate. Say no gives you the opportunity to deliver better results to all the projects you already have in hand.
Increase social interaction: Dr Manchanda recommends interacting when experiencing stress. It is important to talk to friends and family members or close ones about your problems or even about happy moments.
Hobbies: "Do things that make you happy," said Dr Manchanda. Know what your hobbies are and do them as these activities will make you forget about your stressful situation and unburden your brain.
Balanced diet and sleep: It all comes back to diet and sleep. Have your meals regularly and sleep at least 8-10 hours daily.