The Stress In Our Life
We all know about the stress in our life. What we don't know is how to manage it easily. Read further to know more...
We spend good amount of time feeling tense, hasty and exhausted, which is the characteristic of urban life style in modern world. The hectic pace of modern living and lack of exercise leave us tired and drained. End of the day what we look is to spread on sofa in front of television, worrying about responsibilities with lots of stress and indulging ourselves with sweets and snacks.
We rarely find a person who feels peaceful and content, who actually wants to use his mind, imagination or creativity to enrich his life with a good book, a creative hobby or pursue a whole new area of interest. We have neither physical energy nor the mental space to live beyond the relentless demands of office-work, housework, shopping, taking care of children and so on. No wonder so many of us do so little to improve the quality of our lives! Apart from the requirements of everyday leaving, there is a tremendous demand on us in terms of time and increased efforts to keep up with changes; deal with constant pressure and cope with fear or failure.
We may think that this is an exaggerated scenario and is not applicable to us. We may also think that everything is under control and we are doing much more than required to keep things under control until we suddenly find – we have high blood pressure or we are suffering from migraine headache or unexplainable digestive disorder or some such similar symptoms indicating a health problem.
We already know the theory of how we can cope better with everyday life; become physically fitter and reduce any stress we may feel. This involves attending to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Yet it is hard to know exactly what to do, let alone to actually do it.
Most of us exercise only inconsistently. For a few months or years we become addicted to jogging, aerobics, cycling, swimming or even muscle building, but then give up when faced by setbacks or difficulties, however much good we feel the exercise may be doing us. Sometimes we get bored by the exercise; our bodies may be exercising but our minds remain unsatisfied. Sometimes we train too hard, sustaining injuries that prohibit doing that sport for a while, thus eroding our determination and weaken our will. Once that happens, exercise becomes too much like hard work, so we give up.
We need some form of exercise that gently and steadily exercises and relaxes the body and most importantly, refreshes the mind. We need to be able to control the stress we are experiencing, instead of being controlled by it. We need to develop our spiritual and emotional resilience so that we can put the demands and stresses of life in proper perspective and not be plagued by them. We need to prevent health problems before they happen.
Tai Chi can help achieve well-being and balance in one’s life, as a highly beneficial daily health-care program best known for its relaxing effects. Tai Chi is a recreational and refreshing exercise art being practiced by the Chinese people for more than seven centuries. It is a system of flowing movements from exercising and developing the body and mind.
Tai Chi’s basis lies in a philosophy derived from the principles of nature, which place it in harmony with the needs of our minds and bodies, rather than at odds with them, as are so many other forms of exercise.
We hardly take any time to find out what stress really is, in spite we feel it and talk about it day in and day out.
We imagine that the human race had no stress. But in fact human beings have always been experiencing stress of one kind or other with on-going addition from generation to generation due complexity of life. The technological advances of last 100+ years, particularly last 50 are supposed to have made life easier, but ironically they have intensified the stress in our daily existence, mainly by increasing expectations and standards of performance.
No longer is it enough for example to keep the house clean, the clothes washed and food on the table. We feel compelled to keep the house looking like a magazine advertisement, the clothes whiter than white and completely wrinkle free and to cook food of gourmet standard.
Washing machines, microwave ovens, computers, may have taken the drudgery out of work but they have also moved expectations and goals even further out of reach.
Stress is a part of our lives, which though can be overcome, can’t be avoided. Indeed it is very often a topic of conversation such as: the stress of living in a recession, executive life, unemployment, retirement, inflation, unstable government, lack of exercise, family problems, pollution, the death of relative or friend yield stress. Even school children are placed under enormous stress, caused by host of factors such as parental expectations, fear of unemployment in the future and peer pressure, to name but a few.
It is hard to define exactly what stress is as the word ‘stress’ like ‘success’, ‘failure’ or ‘happiness’, means different things to different people. Is ‘stress’ really a synonym for ‘distress’? , is it effort, fatigue, pain, fear, the need for concentration, the humiliation of censure or even an unexpected great success which requires complete reformulation of one’s entire life? The answer to all the questions is yes & no. That is what makes the definition so difficult. Every one of those conditions produces stress, but none can be singled out as being it, since the world applies equally to all the others.
The word itself comes from Latin ‘strictus’ meaning to draw tight. The word ‘stress’ then became absorbed into the old French word ‘estrecier’, meaning to straighten or narrow. These meaning accurately describe what actually happens to our body when we experience excess stress. Our muscles and connective tissues tighten, we tend to hold our limbs and torso straighter and our blood vessels narrow. These are all the characteristics of our natural ‘Fight or Flight’ response, the condition that enabled primitive humans either to stand and confront danger or to flee it.
During your life time you will face a range of totally different problems, but medical research has shown that in many respects the body responds in the stereotyped manner outlined above, undergoing identical biochemical changes which are essentially designed to cope with any type of increased demand upon the human machinery. In other words, although stress-producing factors (technically called stressors) are different, they all elicit essentially the same biological stress response.
Short term arousal due to stress can be life saving, but long term arousal can be damaging to health as the body’s strength is continually drained at a higher rate than normal and no time to recoup energy is given. Long term depression and feelings of being unable to cope, which may result from prolonged stress, produce slightly different changes and it is thought that they may have even greater potential to be damaging.
The distinction between stressor and stress was perhaps the first important step in the scientific analysis of this most common biological phenomenon that we all know only too well from personal experience. Dr. Hans Selye, an internationally acknowledged authority on understanding stress, defines stress as a ‘non-specific response of the body to any demand made on it.
In his book, 'Stress without Distress' he explains that each demand made upon your body is, in a sense, unique – that is, specific. When cold, you shiver to produce more heat and when you sweat because the evaporation of perspiration has a cooling effect. When you eat too much sugar and your blood sugar level rises above normal, you excrete some of it and burn up the rest so that the blood sugar returns to normal. Similarly, any drugs or hormones you take have their own specific effects and side effects on your system.
No matter what kind of derangement is produced, all these stress all these stressors have one thing in common they increase the demand for readjustment. Therefore, although the cause and consequent reaction may be specific, the demand itself is a non-specific, requiring adaption to a problem, irrespective of what that problem may be. The non-specific demand for activity is the essence of stress.
Studies show that many maladies have no specific single cause but are the result of constellation of factors, such as inherited or environmental factors, among which non-specific stress often plays a decisive role. We have to consider that such ailments as peptic ulcers, high blood pressure, nervous breakdown, and so on, may not be primarily due to such causes as diet, genetics, occupational hazards. They may simply be the products of on-going non-specific stress that results from attempting to endure more than we can.
It now seems that ‘working hard’ or ‘getting the job done’ are not the prime cause of heart attacks. The culprit is, in fact the negative thoughts we carry: anger, frustration, tiredness, depression and so on.
Thus, instead of undergoing complicated drug therapies or surgical operations, we can often help ourselves better by establishing whether or not the decisive cause of our illness is stress, which may stem from our relationship with a member of our family or non-employer, or it may merely be due to our own over-emphasis on being right every time.
Anything which upsets the balance of mind or body can cause stress. For the purpose of definition, let us say that ‘stress’ is ‘imbalance’ as the stress response forces the body’s functioning into an excited, imbalanced state.
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