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Stressed? Is it eustress or distress?

February 09, 2017 13:09 IST

Komal Manshani decodes stress and highlights tips to manage it.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/


There are several demands made on us by our environment. These include minor day-to-day hassles such as a traffic jam, an upcoming exam or the death of a loved one.

These demands lead to a reaction in our body, known as a Stress Response.

The body responds to this by releasing cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones. Subsequently there is an increase in our heart rate and blood pressure. Our senses become sharper and we respond quicker. All these reactions help us cope with the stressor.

Not all stress is bad though -- we need that certain amount of stress to perform well in an exam, or to prepare for an important presentation at work. This is called Eustress. 

However, when the stressor is perceived to be of very high intensity, or is chronic in nature, then it has several negative effects.This is Distress, also called Stress in our day-to-day usage.

Stress has a massive impact on our body and mind.

Emotionally, the individual may feel irritable, low, anxious and become susceptible to mood swings.

Stress may also lead to an impaired ability to make decisions as well as concentrate.

One may think negatively, and constantly worry.

The stress may be apparent in the form of chronic fatigue, excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol, sleep and appetite disturbances, or in tense acts such as biting nails and pacing up and down.

Another important and often overlooked impact of stress is on its physiological manifestations.Physical symptoms such as constant aches/pains, constipation, acidity, nausea and frequent colds often have roots in chronic stress. Physical illnesses like heart attacks, ulcers, diabetes and hypertension have also been correlated with stress in many scientific researches.

Tips to manage stress:

Relaxation: Giving priority to relaxation time and activities should be a priority. These activities vary from person to person.

Physical exercise: Simple physical activities done regularly are helpful in alleviating stress and improving one's mood.

Connecting with others: Speaking your mind out with someone helps us in venting out and de-stressing.

Writing: Writing one's thoughts and feelings is also helpful in venting out. Besides, writing being a relaxing activity, it also aids in getting a perspective on our own problems.

Healthy lifestyle: A lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and adequate sleep is integral.

Getting off gadgets: Being constantly online and connected takes a toll on our well-being. It's important to take time off and engage with real people.

Time management: Doing adequate planning and groundwork beforehand, is helpful in avoiding stress associated with lack of preparation and deadlines.

Professional help: If the stress is difficult to manage, it is advisable to consult a psychologist who would guide you towards a happy & healthy life.

Komal Manshani