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ISSUE OF MARCH 2006 
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Stress on the Happiness Factor

In current times, stress is synonymous with hectic work schedules and an even more hectic lifestyle. Bibhas Chatterjee gets to the heart of the matter and meditates on the ways we can deal with this new age phenomenon

How many times have we heard of someone living a simple life, with no complaints of high blood pressure, diabetes or habits like drinking and smoking, but succumbing to a heart attack? Surprisingly, often enough to make us squirm with discomfort and cause unnecessary palpitations.

Stress has become a leading cause for lifestyle-related ailments and this is no longer an unknown fact. In times such as these, most are aware of this fact but don't take enough precautions or steps to keep stress at bay.

Mood Swings

Stress is the wear and tear of our mind and body as we adjust to our continually changing environment and situations. It creates physical and emotional effects which either make us happy or sad, bored or throw up other negative feelings. We cannot change the situation so it is better to have a positive outlook, understand the situation, take corrective steps and do things that keeps one happy.

Stress can have a positive or a negative effect on the mind. As a positive influence, it can compel us to act; it can result in a new awareness and a new perspective. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, loneliness, anger and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rash, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart ailments and even stroke. It can also lead to people taking up harmful habits like smoking, consuming tobacco, drugs and alcohol in excess.

Stress is harmful when it continues over a period of time. This results in a regular secretion of toxic chemicals in the body, which starts affecting the arterial lining. In other words, stress is a physical factor caused by various problems, which we face in our daily lives that affect our physical and mental condition adversely. Continued existence of these adverse conditions results in serious breakdown of physical and mental health.

Stress At Work

Effects of stress is subjective and varies from person to person. People who love to arbitrate disputes and change jobs frequently would be stressed in a job that offers or requires a lot of routine and stability. On the other hand, people who thrive under stable conditions would very likely be stressed in a job where duties fluctuate tremendously. Also, our personal stress threshold and the amount that we can tolerate changes with our age.

It has been found that most illnesses are related to unrelieved stress. If you are experiencing stress symptoms, you have gone beyond your optimal stress level and you need to reduce the stress in your life and/or improve your ability to manage it. That is why stress is often referred to as 'slow poison' and diseases caused due to stress kill millions of people every month worldwide - much more than any other viral or bacterial or communicable disease. It causes the coronary arteries to contract and reduce the blood flow to the heart. It is also one of the important causes of heart attacks. Here stress management becomes very important.

Stress Busters

Reaching There

There are many institutes that offer help for those struggling to cope with stress. One such centre is IPC (Institute of Preventive Cardiology) founded by Dr Pratiksha, MBBS, MD, preventive and non-invasive cardiologist. IPC focuses on preventive health management programmes like reversal of diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity management and non-surgical treatment for critical heart disease with 70 to 100 per cent blockages, single to triple vessel disease, etc.

IPC conducts lectures, seminars and interactive educational workshops on holistic wellness. It is in technical collaboration with the UK-based Arterial Disease Clinic. For more information, visit ipc-india.com

The best way to deal with stress is to learn and follow stress relaxation techniques along with yoga, dietary management, and meditation. There are many programmes and packages available in the market that are simple and can be personalised according to your needs. These programmes aim to develop and strengthen your mind and make it more powerful. They train you to relax, unwind your mind as well as every muscle of your body, thus improving your total physical and mental health.

Such stress management sessions educate participants about the harmful effects of stress on the heart, and sessions are dedicated to guide those ailing to control stress through yoga. Most of these programmes are based on individual counseling with a complete recorded analysis of yourself along with education, guidance and training on self development.

Yoga: Different forms of yoga, meditation, pranayam and relaxation exercises are great stress busters along with past life repression that help understand and release negative factors that continue to disturb our sub-conscious mind.

Dietary management: Food is medicine. Every single meal you eat is contributing to or taking away from your health and longevity. The question is this whether you eat to live or live to eat? Most people select food on the basis of what makes them feel good in the short term by giving immediate taste and satisfaction. As you become increasingly aware of the power of food in relation to health, the process of eating becomes two-fold - an act of pleasure and a boost to your health. A healthy diet also helps fight stress in a big way.

Exercise: Regular exercise in the form of walks, jogs, aerobics, etc., basically anything that you enjoy can be the best stress buster.

(The author is director of  IPC Heart Care Centre)

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