Talking about our problems to someone before they affect us deeply can reduce stress, which may otherwise start eating us inside like sgrubs or insects slowly eat the trees. World Mental Health Day is observed on December 10 every year. There is a lot of information available on various mental health disorders and this column is about the prevention of an unhealthy way of coping with stress and how managing our daily lives in the right way can promote good mental health and our well-being.
Stress or ‘tension’ is something that we all go through in our lives. ‘Eustress’ or a healthy amount of stress is good to keep us productive and motivated towards a goal. For example, when a person wants to train for the marathon and prepares for it every day; or the hard work required for planning a vacation, knowing what waits at the end of it could be pleasurable. Hence, experiencing stress is not always harmful.
What causes stress? Too much workload at college like having to submit many assignments within a short time, long study hours, class presentations, finding no time to relax and so on can lead to unhealthy stress. Other examples can be frequent quarrels in class or at home, poor support from friends and family, difficult living conditions like living alone, financial problems and frequent health problems, very little free time, boredom and monotonous routines.
Feeling that we have no control over our lives can add to our stress.
How does stress affect our body and mind? Physical problems like backaches, unexplained headaches, skin problems (acne, rashes) and stomach ulcers; disturbed sleep and lack of appetite (weight loss or gain) and falling ill all the time are some examples.
Some psychological signs of stress are feeling tired all the time, getting irritable and angry easily and feeling sad.
Trying to cope with this with the help of tobacco use and alcohol abuse, a poor diet, physical inactivity and use of pain killers, showing our anger on others or just bottling things up are some of the unhealthy ways.
Remember, stress can affect the immune system and worsen infections and trigger clinical depression in the long run.
What will others think of me? We often hesitate to talk about difficulties that bother us due to fear of shame, stigma and worry about to what others will think of us.
Hence, without talking to anyone, our problems remain hidden and can keep growing till they becomes unmanageable and spell doom for us.