Without doubt, wellbeing is the ultimate objective of human existence. Paradoxically, we often wind up surrendering well-being in order to earn money, and then spend a major part of the earnings in attempts to regain it. These efforts are invariably fruitless – so why do we do it? More often than not, the only real beneficiary of the eternal rat race is the healthcare industry.

For most of us, work is the central pursuit in life. We strive to move up the career ladder, putting up massive efforts at the expense of other important factors that make life meaningful. We are not unaware of the toll this takes; the effort leads to physical and mental stress, while the subconscious knowledge that we engaged in a fool’s errand leads to psychological and spiritual stress.

Managing stress is essential for maintaining a sense of well-being. Stress occurs when we face situations for which we don’t have ready-made responses. The stress factor remains in check and can even be exhilarating as long as our minds entertain the hope that success is imminent. As soon as a feeling of impending defeat or loss sets in, stress becomes unpleasant, unhealthy and draining. This also leads to loss of motivation and destroys all feelings of well-being.

The Building Blocks Of Stress

Stress is multi-faced demon which we create to drive success, and which eventually gobbles us up. It consists of:

  1. Threat perception
  2. Feeling of negativity
  3. The resultant psychological arousal

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The drivers of stress are called stressors, and everything perceived as an impediment to what one desires to achieve is a stressor. The defense reaction causes a psychological alarm to go off, and makes us to muster all our energy to achieve the goal. If the situation continues for a prolonged time, the human mind prepares for long-term battle by remaining in a persistent state of active alertness. Eventually, both mind and body tire of this constant stage of red alert. Energy levels drop and there are increased chances of failure at the task level.

The Effects Of Stress

At the mental level, persistent and continuous stress leads to anxiety, insecurity and lack of concentration. At the physical level, it leads to changes in our hormonal secretion, in turn leading to cardiac problems and reduced immunity levels. In the societal realm, it leads to the steady erosion and breakdown of relationships. Burnout – emotional, physical and mental exhaustion mixed with reduced self-confidence and morale – sets in.

The Causes Of Stress

In an organization, some of the commonly observed caused of stress among employees are:

  • Very high or very low role demands
  • Lack of sufficient authority to discharge duties effectively
  • Favoritism and poorly-handled appraisal discussions
  • Lack of career prospects
  • Impending layoff or role redundancy

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At a more individual level, existing personal circumstances, learned responses as well as inherent genetic dispositions cause us to react to stress differently. Major life transitions such as the death of family member, family breakdown, illness or loss of friends also play a role and make us sensitive to stressors that would have been ignored under other circumstances.

How to Manage Stress

Here are some of the most effective stress management precepts:

  • Be conscious of your thoughts and deeds, and of what your action do to you and others
  • Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
  • Draw up an integrated life plan – give equal weightage to work, family and society
  • Practice regular yoga and meditation to balance body and mind – there are very easy modules run by several agencies
  • Remember that it is not about winning at all costs but winning without any damage to you

Finally, remember that we cannot remove stress from our life. There are too many causative factors, and not all of them can be stopped. A reasonable degree of stress can actually be beneficial, because it makes us strive for more. However, it is essential to how much is enough for each one of us.

Jappreet Sethi

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