Modern times are filled with almost all days of frustrations, hassles, demands and deadlines. These terms are generally used to refer to the phenomenon called ‘stress’. Stress has now become a part of life. With both the men and women going out to work, nuclear families outnumbering joint families, the homes have become, not ‘havens of peace’, but ‘systems of stress’. Stress isn’t, though, always bad. To a certain extent, stress is a boon because it motivates one to perform better to give his/her best. But today’s scenario augurs for one to always be on an emergency mode, making one’s mind and body pay the price.
Actually, the ‘fight-flight’ response or the ‘stress’ response helps one to rise up to face the challenges of life. But beyond a point, stress stops being useful and starts causing serious havoc to one’s health, productivity, family and relationships. Thus it starts lashing out its dangerous tentacles at the quality of life.
Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe how people respond to overwhelming stress in their lives, in three ways:
FOOT ON THE GAS – An angry or agitated stress response. You are heated, keyed up, overly emotional or unable to remain/sit still.
FOOT ON BRAKE – A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
FOOT ON BOTH – A tense and frozen stress response. You ‘freeze’ under pressure, and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you’re deeply agitated.
Stress becomes a problem when one feels overwhelmed by the things that happen to them. There seems to be too much to deal at one time and one doesn’t know for sure how to handle oneself and the situation, at such times.
The stress of parenting, I am sure, many of us realise, far exceeds the levels of stress found in the business world, one’s career or workplace. But the good news is that if one can teach oneself the positive ways of handling stress, one can actually improve one’s efficiency.
Mismanagement of stress can damage our child’s confidence. When we become overly stressed, we feel we don’t have enough time, patience and energy to deal with our children. For example,
We can’t enough to give time for our child to get ready for school, so we grumble, ending up doing most of the jobs for the child.
We cannot appreciate a creative piece of work our child has accomplished; instead look only at all the mess he/she has made, ‘dirtying’ the place.
We jump to conclusions, scold/yell at our teenage boy/girl, not giving enough time to listen to what explanation they have to give us for being late in coming home.
Again when overly stressed, we slip into the mode of negative responses, unconsciously copied from our auto parent or wounded child. (Mentioned in one of the earlier articles)
Each one of us reacts to stress in different ways and the amount of stress each one can take, also differs. One parent might find her toddler’s tantrums unmanageable while another parent will still remain in her saintly trance. One can easily manage to overcome her stress over a cup of coffee/tea or a hot shower while another may need an hour’s seclusion in her room, listening to soothing music to her ears.
Negative stress reactions in us could be because of imbalances in our physical health, emotional states, mental functioning or our behavior or response to situations around us.
We can easily ‘catch’ red handed, symptoms of our individual ‘tell tale’ signs of stress. Make a list of such tell tale signs which could indicate our stress patterns. These signs have an insidious habit of creeping up on us gradually without us realizing that we are under a strain. That is why we see that overly stressed people sometimes cannot say ‘no’ to the mounting pressures in them, they fall into the trap, and land up becoming more stressed over a given/recurring situation. One must be beware of such situations.
‘The time to relax is when you don’t have any time for it’ – Sydney Harris.
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