How to Deal with Chronic Stress?
An epidemic is defined as a disease that can affect a large number of people in a given population and has no certain medical cure. Deepak Chopra defines stress as an epidemic of modern life. Stress is basically not a disease and it can happen to anyone. You can feel stressed after a bad day at work or college, or because you didn’t study for an exam that is about to start in half an hour. But, the things become complicated when a person stays stressed all the time, i.e., the state of chronic stress. Stress doesn’t cause any external harm to the body but can affect the balance and equilibrium of body. Stress destroys body from within until it is relieved.
Ironically, most of the people in our modern society don’t suffer from acute stress that bursts out with a fight-or-fight reaction. Instead, it is hidden in their mind, in the form of a low-level chronic stress. When we suffer from stress, it results in heightened energy and alertness for a short period of time. However, when the stress is chronic, i.e., when it becomes a part of life, and a person stays in the constant state of stress all the time, it eventually causes damage to the body.
There are three stages of damage caused by stress, these are:
1. Psychological and Neural Damage
Initially described as mental tiredness and state of being under pressure, stress causes psychological damage to the mind of a person. They might say that they are just tired and feeling low on energy, to mask the underlying problems like depression, anxiety, and even panic.
2. Behavioral Damage
Soon, the stress starts affecting the behavior of a person. When a person is under stress, his/her behavior starts getting negative, causing damage to their relationships, personal as well as professional. They might get angry or start doing things like gossiping or drinking alcohol. They try to explore alternatives to relieve their stress which can further lead to addiction.
3. Physical Damage
When the body can’t take stress anymore, it starts affecting body physically and causes damage to the body. Mostly, stress causes physical fatigue in people. Further, it can lead to other problems like headaches, stomachaches, and bad digestion. Soon, it can affect the immunity, thus worsening the allergies and can cause common cold. Further, the stress can also cause inflammation in any body part. For some people, it causes common skin eruptions, but it can also cause some other problems like irritable bowel syndrome, or severe conditions like coronary artery diseases and stroke.
You must be scared by now and thinking about what can help you manage your stress so that it doesn’t get fatal? Well, here Deepak Chopra along with his co-author Rudolph E. Tanzi explained how to manage stress to avoid serious complications. He says that to deal with everyday stress, a person should have conscious coping mechanisms that can help in controlling the mind during stressful situations. He says that stress is generated by the factors like worry, tension, anger, and pessimism (i.e., always expecting the worst outcome for everything).
He says that if a person has these attitudes or behaviors, it shows that they are adapting to stress themselves. However, if a person wants they can avoid getting worried about common situations like a delayed flight or not achieving their target at work. People who let these behaviors invade their mind, get stuck in the abyss of stress.
To avoid getting stressed, Deepak Chopra suggested to do the following things:
- Focus on something else: During a stressful situation, try focusing on something that diverts your mind from it, such as reading a book or scrolling through your phone.
- Become centered: Try to meditate to relieve stress and anger.
- Seek positive outlets: Try avoiding the stressful environment and go at a place where you can divert your mind from the situation. This include shopping malls or clubs where you can get your stress relieved.
- Stay active: Don’t over-think about situations. Instead keep moving or make any kind of movement to divert your mind.
- Rely on emotional support: For example, you can get emotional support by calling some family member or a close friend. This can help you talk out about the situation and can help in relieving stress.
All these things can help in dealing with a stressful situation and can also help in adapting with it.