On March 6, 2021, Seniors Today conducted its monthly counselling forum with Dr Monika Dass as part of its Health Live series where she spoke about understanding and managing stress. Dr Noor Gill captures key takeaways from the session.
Dr Dass is a Chartered Psychologist, a Chartered Scientist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, UK. Professionally, she has counselled over 12,500 individuals in a span of 20 years and has published several papers in both Indian and international journals.
A trained pianist and vocalist from the Trinity College of Music, London, Dr Dass has influenced many lives with the joyful learning of music. She has been actively involved in several popular musicals such as The Sound of Music, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and so on… with her expertise in developing children through drama. She firmly believes that any extracurricular activity can help tap into one’s potential and bring out the best in an individual.
Here are key takeways from her presentation and later the Q&A with attendees:
- Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or a response. We experience stress from our environment and thoughts.
Stress can come out as depression, anxiety, being frustrated, miserable, being easily irritated, and pessimism.
It can be because of a headache, pressure- work or social.
- According to the WHO, India is the most depressed country, followed by china and the USA. WHO has estimated that one in seven Indians suffers from mental stress.
- Signs of stress that we encounter:
- Psychological signs:-
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Trouble in remembering things as one grows older
- Emotional signs:
- Losing control over ones emotions or crying
= Moodiness and loss of control of emotions can also occur as we grow older due to bodily changes.
- Physical sign:
- Rise in blood pressure
- Changes in weight not related to strict dieting
- Frequent colds and infections
- Low energy levels
- Sleep disorders
- Behavioural signs:
- Poor self-care
- Low self-image
- Not having time for the things you enjoyed
- Dependence on drugs to cope, such as alcohol
- When you’re stressed your cortisol levels are raised. Cortisol is called the ‘stress hormone’, it cause increase in the heart rate and your blood pressure. Your glucose levels are increased and this increases the brains use of glucose and also increases the availability of substances that repair your tissues. It is our body’s natural flight or fight response and it is what has kept us alive for all these years.
- Stress management is important for several reasons:
- Healthier and happier life
- You’re much more productive in every way
- You’re more balanced in life
- You have healthier relationships
- You are relaxed and have fun
- You’re more resilient
- You can try reducing your stress by:
- Slowing down
- Keeping calm
- Being positive
- Taking it easy
- Having fun, going out
- Smile a lot
- Some other stress diffusers include:
- Taking up a hobby
- Working with nature
Ways to manage chronic and severe stress:
- Medication- for sleeping, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medicines.
- Psychotherapy- there are various forms of psychotherapy, some of them are
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) helps people identify and change negative thinking patterns.
- MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) utilizes meditation and mindfulness to help you reduce your stress levels
- REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy) it is an approach that helps you find irrational beliefs and negative thoughts and patterns that may lead to behavioural or emotional issues.
- Signs of burn out you need to look out for:
- Your reaction to every curveball/ crisis that occurs
- Chronic low energies or exertion
- Falling sick more frequently
- Not recharging or relaxing
- Having a sense of inefficacy
- Cynicism and sarcasm
- Not letting go of the idea of perfection
- Some coping mechanisms:-
- Regular exercising- it lowers your stress hormone and it also releases endorphins which helps with your mood and are natural painkillers. Regular exercises helps alleviate your mood and quality of sleep and improve your confidence and self-image.
- Practice guided mindfulness exercises- it ia all about being in the here and now.
- Follow guided imagery helps in things that you want to achieve in life or desire. It helps you visualise what you want in a healthy and positive manner.
- Praying- your involvement in the prayer is more important than the amount of time you spend praying
- Complementary and alternate medicine- you can look into acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, yoga, meditation
- To control your stress, you need to be selective. Take control of the things that matter ad let go of the things you can’t control.
- You need to check up with your doctor when your stress starts affecting your daily life nad function. Such as:-
- Prolonged time since you’ve been suffering from disturbed sleep.
- Severe and chronic headache
- Unexpected and unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Feelings of isolation, feeling of worthlessness which can lead to depression.
- Constant anger or irritability
- Loss of interest in your basic, daily activities.
- Constant worrying and obsessive thinking
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Dependence on alcohol and other drugs
The 4 As in the management of stress include:
Avoid- avoid any unnecessary stressful situations
Adapt- adapt to a situation
Alter- the situation that is worrying/ bothering you
Accept the things you cannot change
- Neurosis is a mild mental disorder which does not arise from an organic disease. It ascends from stress, depression, anxiety, etc.
- Psychosis however is a personality disorder which causes significant mental and emotional disturbances. They require medication and can be harmful for themselves and those around them.