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Decoding Stress

October 28, 2020

Stress- an inevitable part of human existence or can I say, an inevitable part of existence. No one escapes this, not because they cannot, but because they fail to find the gateway. Stress has gripped our minds like never before. Each one of us uses this particular word to explain one’s condition and expects to be understood from the frame. From a clinical standpoint, Stress is something that challenges one’s state of equilibrium or one’s state of homeostasis. It affects an individual’s ability to think, analyze and process critical information in a clear manner. It makes one feel heightened state of emotions even when there is no apparent situation or trigger for the same. Stress impacts our behavior and pushes us on a defensive path unknowingly. We feel victimized and misunderstood along with an inability to take responsibility of our own life in our hands.

Stress dampens our spirit to take on challenges and face them head on. Stress makes us look for an easy way out, it raises a question mark on our capabilities. More often than not, one realizes about stress after it has considerably casted a negative impact on one’s resources (physical as well as psychological).

Stress is invisible but present everywhere. Every task that we choose, voluntarily or involuntarily, to perform, is bound to put some stress over us. We cannot not feel stressed if we are into action (both physical and mental). So, naturally one feels pushed to ask about ways to deal with stress. Along with age old wisdom of how to live life, psychological help is something that helps one go into deeper aspects of stress. Psychological aid supports a person in finding out the exact cause of his stress and then chalk out a strategy that would yield desired results in terms of coping with stressful situations and triggers.

Generally, given the cultural set up and its limitations in India, psychological help is not the primary choice for many people when they think about asking for help to cope with their stress. Although, in the urban environment, the scenario is changing slowly with a greater number of people approaching a counselor od a psychologist to help them get control of their life.

Counseling or psychotherapy is a structured form of talking cure where an individual decides to open up about his personal problems to a trained psychotherapist to seek relief. Psychotherapy has a systematic and structured way of conducting sessions with the individual depending upon the intensity of the problem and the availability of resources like time and family support etc. In cases where the individual has got the support from his family members, the recovery is faster and stable compared to those situations where the individual has to fight a lonely battle. Family environment plays a major role while chalking out strategies that will help the individual fight stress in a healthy and successful manner.

In many cases, it has been observed that behind the apparent symptoms of stress, the individual carries a history of trauma or abuse in his past. Such revelations demand that the psychotherapy be customized to enable the individual so that he can resolve his past trauma through careful attention and insight development. Sometimes, stress can be a resultant of a long standing physical or psychological illness. During such cases, thorough understanding of an individual’s personality, family environment and his genetic predisposition guides the psychotherapist to develop a customized intervention plan for the individual.

In Young children and growing teens, stress can be more due to the pressing demands of academics and social performance. In situations like these, the psychotherapist might need to conduct sessions with the entire family in order to help them develop empathy and acceptance towards the child or the adolescent.

One might want to say that stress cannot be helped through anything since it is everywhere. But as a psychologist, I feel, one must never refrain from taking help from an expert like a counselor or a psychotherapist.

Some thoughts to remember while feeling stressed-

1) Life will never be free of stress. So, it is unreal to expect and think that after psychotherapy, there will be no trace of stress of any type.

2) Just like, mental stress is real, so is physical stress. More often than not, Psychological stress is felt because our body is exhausted. So, ensure that your body is well taken care of before you complain about psychological stress.

3) It helps to have some reality orientation. While it is good to stretch oneself beyond perceived limits, it is equally important to realize when to say “NO”.

4) It is good to expect your friends to help you cope with stress but one must be careful in understanding that one’s friends too have their own troubles and challenges. Instead of burdening them down with expectations, it is healthy to take turns to some active listening.

5) Learning to be responsible for one’s life, choices and decisions is the ultimate solution to all troubles of life. No one gets to choose it for you.

Purnima Gupta, Assistant Professor - Psychology, Unitedworld School of Liberal Arts and Mass Communication (USLM)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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