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Demystifying Stress

Imagine it is the year 2011. India is playing against Sri Lanka in the world cup and has a huge score to chase. Hopes are diminished when Sachin and Sehwag are dismissed. Then comes in Dhoni, hits that massive six when India required 4 runs out of 11 balls and India wins the World Cup! Remember the tension and pressure we took as spectators while watching it? The nail biting, heart pounding, pace walking, being fidgety and occasional jumping when somebody hit a boundary or a sixer! Rather, some of you might be re-experiencing it right now while reading about it and this tells us what stress is. The physical tension, emotional ups and downs and a continuous train of thoughts running in the mind towards any challenging or threatening situation is called stress.

We live a life which is fast paced and each one of us experiences stress in our daily lives, then it might be while dealing with family members, at work place or in social situations. For some the intensity of it might be low and for some, it might be high. Most of the time, stress is given a negative or unpleasant connotation. It is considered that stress arises only in bad or unpleasant situations like loss of job, getting diagnosed with an illness, any serious injury or even this pandemic! This type of stress is called ‘distress’, the devil side of stress. Distress is the type of stress where a person might have mixed and unwanted feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious. In distress, the person’s ability of taking decisions, thinking evidently and communication gets hampered. The person might feel that his life is crashing down like a pack of cards. Distress has its effects on a person’s body as well as the appetite. Person under distress might experience mild to heavy head ache, body pain, excessive sweating, fatigue and over eating, which is also called as stress-eating, or fasting for days. The other type, the angelic side, of the stress is called eustress or good stress. Eustress refers to ideal amount of stress, which pushes people into accepting and overcoming a challenge, or which motivates us. Imagine your first day of college, you moving to a different city, an interesting assignment at work or your first date! You might have felt nervous in these situations, but the stress might have pushed you to yield good results and that’s what eustress does. Eustress motivates you to attain good results, then may it be in your personal life, professional life or social life.

AM I EXPERIENCING EUSTRESS OR DISTRESS?

It is quite typical to get confused between the experience of eustress and distress as the physiological changes in both can be same. The important difference between the both is the feeling. In distress a person feels threatened or experiences danger while in eustress a person feels challenged or motivated. When in confusion, ask yourself whether the stressor is creating a threat, for example taking stress of an abusive relationship, or whether it is challenging, for example- stressing about learning a new language.

WHAT TO DO WHILE EXPERIENCING DISTRESS

It is important to understand that it is okay to feel distressed for a short period of time after a particular situation. During this short period, it is advised that the person acknowledges the stressors and accept the way he/she is feeling without denying them. Other techniques that can be used are trying to find meaning of the stressors, focusing on solution than on problem, talking it out. If you find it difficult to overcome the distress after a long time, then you make seek professional help. Remember, as dark as it must seem at that point, you can get through it.

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Shriya Rajendra Khalate

MA Clinical Psychology, Counselor, Co-founder at Unico

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