Stress is a feeling of physical and emotional tension. Stress which is often characterized as causing the emotional and mental problem also leads to a physical problem. In corporates, economic stress on the industry arising out of the nationwide lockdown forced by the Covid-19 health emergency is expected to last well beyond one quarter, according to the respondents of an ASSOCHAM-Primus Partners’ joint survey, which has caused immense stress not only in stakeholders of the company but also in downline employees. There has been a huge cut in paychecks and also many companies have not been able to provide salaries to the employees.
According to Maslow theory of Motivation, if the basic needs of an individual are not fulfilled, it causes stress. It is very important to understand the difference between Eustress and Distress. Whenever under pressure individuals perform and achieve targets and objectives, it is called Eustress and when one is unable to manage himself, unable to achieve targets and feels that he cannot sort it and run away is distress. When it gets more severe it leads to depression. Work from home has also been a new norm these days, where informal interaction has been reduced. Domestic violence and child abuse has been also increased with this new norm, which is due to stress as people are not able to go out and getting frustrated by sitting near laptop and phones.
When we are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone (corticosteroid) suppresses the effectiveness of the immune system. Not only this when there is distress among people it leads to taking abusive substances like cigarette, alcohol and that subsequently results in deterioration of physical health. Hypertension is also a result of stress. Moreover, it has also been found that during stress heart rate increases which causes strain in the circulatory system and which eventually reduces immunity in the body. In an experiment done by Kiecolt-Glaser in 1986, it was found that immune responses were weak in those students who were going through some sort of stress as compared to those which did not have distress. Wherein it is false that eustress boosts the immune system.
How to cope up with Stress
1. Self-Awareness – In corporates, people are very stressed about jobs and income during COVID-19 time. Self-Awareness about knowing their own strengths and opportunities related to their strengths can lead to eustress and emotional wellbeing. People who are looking for a source of income or another job can write down their 5-10 strengths or skills or hobbies like photography and then can relate it to the opportunity available as per their hobby Like finding sites where they can get paid to send photographs. This will not only channelize the energy but can create a source of income for them. As the saying says, “something is better than nothing”.
2. Mindfulness – Mindfulness is to be present in the present moment. It means when you are emotionally, psychologically and physically present at the present moment. I can be started even when you wake up when you are even brushing your teeth, sitting in the park. example -When you are brushing your teeth, watch when you move your brush towards right side, feel it, when you are moving your brush towards the left side of your mouth, up and down. Your thoughts and actions and emotions can be present at the moment. Similarly, when you are sitting in the garden or walking on the road, look around what’s there. Watch birds, trees, feel the wind, feel voices of the birds.
According to neuroscience, amygdala which is responsible for stress and anxiety; its volume gets low by practising mindfulness and meditation and the connection between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex increases which eventually reduces stress.
3. Express – Talk about your feelings, emotions, worries to your loved ones. Researches and studies at Harvard have also found that expression in any form, even in the form of writing, art, music, dance helps reducing stress and anxiety.
4. Shift your Focus – Identify those things which you do not have control over and focus on things that you can work with the resources available to you.
5. Yoga and Meditation – Even in the busy schedule, keep some time for only you even if it is 5-10 min. Every day these 5-10 minutes which is spent on yoga and meditation helps to release stress. According to neuroscience while practising yoga and meditation, neural activity in brain strengthens which leads to an increase in the volume of the hippocampus which is responsible for happiness and reduces the volume of the amygdala which is responsible for stress.
5. Sleep Pattern –Try to follow a regular sleep pattern. At least 7 hours of sleep is important.
6. Avoid drugs or alcohol – People often mistake by treating them as a stress reliever but in fact, it is stress creator as it is responsible for altering the brain chemistry. It causes the release of a higher amount of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone which is responsible for increasing stress.
7. Laughter – Laughter lowers blood pressure and reduces hypertension. It provides good cardiac conditioning especially for those who are unable to perform physical exercise. Reduces stress hormones (studies show, laughter induces regulation of at least four of neuroendocrine hormones—epinephrine, cortisol, dopamine and growth hormone, associated with stress response). Boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells,disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and disease destroying antibodies called B-cells.
8. Relaxation Technique – Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits.