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"I am so stressed!". How many times in a week do we use or hear this sentence? A bold guess would be every day, and this guess may very well be correct. We deal with some kind of stress on a daily basis. Many situations in our life can cause stress – School, work, relationships, traffic, a fight, or even news. Stress experience is also unique to individuals in the sense that what might be unbearable stress for one may be trivial for some other.
What is Stress?
Stress is a state of an individual that occurs in response to the physical, emotional, or intellectual changes. Furthermore, some of it is within our control (like assignment submission). For others, not so much (like an earthquake). Although stress is harmful, stresses that are within our control are easier to manage. Stressful situations like an examination or moving to a new city or traveling in a jam-packed subway are all situations that can give us short-term stress, and they can also be managed. Another thing that can give us stress and can be managed is a lifestyle. What was the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about 'lifestyle’? Maybe something like 'the way a person lives their life. How is our Lifestyle connected to the level of stress we experience? The answer is not that simple.
Stress and Lifestyle
A basic understanding of stress is a psychological and physical strain or tension generated by physical, emotional, social, economic, or occupational circumstances, events, or experiences that are difficult to manage or endure. Keeping this in mind, we can pin some key points:
- It is both physical and psychological.
- It can have multiple causes - physical, emotional, social, economic, or occupational.
- It is not easy to manage or endure.
Any situation, event, or circumstance that causes us stress is called a stressor. Traumatic events (abuse), life changes (moving to a new city), and hassles (traveling in an overcrowded bus) are some types of stressors.
Stress can be caused by a fight with a friend or an accident; both will take a toll on the mind and body, and coping with both would be different. However, they are all stress. However, saying all stress is harmful is also not correct. A small amount of stress may motivate us to deal with a difficult situation more efficiently.
Any stress activates a biological reaction in our body which prepares us for 'fight or flight' to overcome the situation. However, if the stressful situation continues for too long, the biological system helping us cope with stress may backfire and instead harm us. This can complicate the situation and predispose people to other ailments like body aches, headaches, or psychological problems like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Looking at it this way, learning how to manage stress effectively can save us much trouble.
The term lifestyle was introduced in 1929 as "a person's basic character as established early in childhood." It was reconceptualized in a much broader sense of "the way of living" in 1961. We often hear about a 'good lifestyle' or 'healthy lifestyle.' But, what does it mean? When asked, people may respond with exercising, eating healthy, sleeping on time, not doing substances, having a healthy work-life balance, not having disease, and so on. There are many aspects to a healthy lifestyle; According to World Health Organization:
- A healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of serious illness.
- It also helps in enjoying more aspects of the life.
- It assists a person's whole family.
WHO also advised people on tobacco and alcohol consumption, physical activity, and healthy eating, suggesting various plan-of-action to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
The present world is increasingly fast, pushing people towards an extreme life where they try to juggle multiple things at once. It wears people out physically, mentally, and emotionally, and the increasing stress levels predispose people to diseases.
Managing Stress in Lifestyle
In the present world, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is becoming increasingly difficult; a flourishing, fast-paced lifestyle culture is becoming increasingly apparent/evident. This is causing people to be more stressed. Hospitals, organizations, and governments have launched many schemes and policies to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Even on a personal level, there are many things an individual can do to maintain a healthier Lifestyle such as:
- Avoiding cigarettes or smoking occasionally,
- Moderate alcohol consumption,
- Eating a balanced diet,
- Regular exercising,
- Engaging in social activities,
- Consuming medication wisely,
- Being safety conscious,
- Maintaining a healthy work-life balance,
- Getting enough sleep,
- Learning how to manage stress.
These among other things can be detrimental in reducing the stress levels in our day-to-day lives.
There is stress all around us. Individuals confront all kinds of stress, from small day-to-day troubles to big events. When stress is inevitable, adopting a positive outlook toward life is increasingly important. Trying to stay happy in life is important. According to research, happy life has its elements: a pleasant life, a good life, and a meaningful life. Day-to-day pleasurable activities make our life pleasant; by identifying our unique skills and abilities and engaging in those talents that enrich our lives, a good life can be attained; And using these talents for a greater good and a deep sense of fulfillment leads to a meaningful life.
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