The IndUS Network e-magazine

It is the "new" busy ... stress

Stress Awareness month


This is an era where we are putting extra efforts to define, describe and add adjectives to the word “busy”. Now there are campaigns to differentiate an “old busy” from a “new busy”. There are other colloquial busy words which are in use like “really busy”, “busy-busy”, “very busy” “too busy” and others. Corporations are working hard to invent new tools, processes and gadgets to support the so called “new busy”.

It is hard to blame the individuals for these new definitions. With a global outlook, today’s workforce is distributed all over the world. With multiple time zones it is hard to imagine a conference time which is not going to be in someone’s wee hours or late night hours. A 40 hour work week is a history. Global professional’s new friends and pets are blackberries, iPhones, smartphones and laptops. These pets are so loyal that their masters never leave them even when they go to sleep or to a vacation. It is buzzing 24x7 all 365 days that the battery gets fatigued faster. This is because today’s world is so competitive and there is very less room for aspiring individuals to slack. This has created tremendous amount of pressure on every individual and at every level. Whether someone is a student or a professional or a full-time mom, there is always a minimal amount of expectations.

So what is the real definition of stress?

Any situation which creates an expectation on an individual is called stressor and an individual’s reaction to handle a stressor is called “stress”. In the days of yore, the stressors were primarily “physical”, such as a threat to one’s life. Biologically, a human body is built to provide a “fight or flight” response for a “physical stress”. During this response the body triggers many involuntary changes (secretions) within the body to support the extra energy required to face that situation. While such secretions are helpful to overcome a temporary threat, a continual involuntary change to the body is very harmful. Today most of the stress is “psychological” in nature. However the body response is the same as the physical stress.

While a short term stress has been linked to anger, headache ,tiredness, short-term memory loss and palpitation, a long term stress is linked to high blood pressure (stroke), high cholesterol (heart disease), musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders (depression and burnout), workplace injury, suicide, cancer, ulcer and weakened immunity function. Based on the statistics stress related diseases contribute to 1 in 166 deaths in US every year. (The statistics for other countries could not be verified).

There are various ways to manage your stress. There is plenty of information available in the public domain which you can read. However, many of the stress management information revolve around the following Core themes:
Energize yourself DAILY: While it is hard to eliminate some of the stressors it is easy to energize your body with regular exercises such as Yoga, Aerobics or Speed walking. Do not forget that sleep is a great energizer. An adequate amount of sleep can keep you alert and focused for the next day.
Take a work break PERIODICALLY WITHIN A DAY: Whatever your routines are, at home or at work, take a break from it periodically. Use the break to do what you like to do, such as, listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie, watching TV, a short nap, a phone call to your friend or a chat with your buddy. (Keep an eye on the clock or set an alarm to get back to your work :-)
Take a vacation break REGULARLY: Plan your vacation to change your environment settings. Most importantly do not check your blackberry or smart phone for work emails and do not take your work-related phone calls. If you had to then do not consider it as a vacation break. Take another break!

There is also a philosophical way to manage one's stress. As Buddha preached “humans suffer because they continually attach and crave for things that do not give lasting happiness”. Altering once perception to life can help reducing the stress. Don't miss to watch the following video which can help you to take a philosophical perception to life.

Video: Life is like a cup of coffee