Myself and my friend were chatting with each other. She was telling me, that she is too much tensed. I asked her, what the tension was. She said, “I have an offer to conduct the class. But due to the long gap, I am tensed, if I can conduct classes.” While I was listening to her suddenly I questioned myself that do I know what I mean by being tensed and started thinking about it.
So, what does tension/stress really mean? Most importantly, do we understand that we are stressed? For even a minor or a big event can cause stress. Can we guess what causes stress and how do we identify it? When stressed, people advise to meditate, go for a walk, think positive, be happy, make list of things to do; but will doing this reduce the stress levels?
In fact our way of thinking is the cause of stress. Fear, telling lies, arguments, anxiety about kids reaching home in time, disagreements with in laws, shouldering multiple responsibilities at the same time makes us tired causing stress. Managing insecurity, humiliation, job, business, relationships, restlessness and unwanted worries of small activities causes stress.
For example if husband promises to come home early from his office and fails to reach home in time, the moment he reaches home, arguments are ignited. The wife says, “You give more importance to work than me.” And he keeps on saying that ‘there was an issue in the office’. On hearing this, the wife will lose her temper, will be irritated, express her anger and he too will be angry with her and go out of the house. There is no conclusion of such a behavior, both of them are internally upset and tend to destroy their martial life and reach the climax of being separated legally.
Another example we experience often that the disputes between the daughters-in-law with her in laws are popular universally. The mother-in-law feels that I am the eldest and hence the younger daughters-in-law should obey me. Every instruction must be followed in the appropriate way and the daughters-in–law feel that now you have finished with your own married life style, so let me enjoy my married life style at home. Both of them have arguments even for the minutest event to trigger the disputes. For instance, when the mother-in-law instructed with a specific vegetable to be cooked, and the daughter-in-law cooks some different vegetable, disputes are bound to trigger causing stress and then either the daughter-in-law will quit the house and return to her maternal house or the mother-in-law will fall prey to blood pressure problems.
Another commonest example is about employed females and males are regularly under stress as they have to achieve their targets. They have to report to their boss everyday and if they fail to achieve their targets, they have to bear the scolding of their seniors, complete the target under stress and later face the physical and mental stress. Having drinks, accepting a physical disorder or pain, Diabetes, high blood pressure, headache, back-pain reduces the resistance of the body and converts in to poor physical health. This in turn affects the mental health. They cannot focus or concentrate on anything, cannot be happy, feel irritated, get angry quickly, feel sad, reduce their self-confidence, are not able to have their food intake in the right proportion, do not have a sound and ample sleep.
The competition has increased to such an extent that all parents feel that their wards should score more than 90% marks and be a Doctor or an Engineer. They load their children with such a variety of expectations that they fail to see that their children are under stress. They always compare their ward with the others and lower their confidence. This tends to have a lower focus on studies and the wards spend their time with their friends or the TV or mobile/TV games. They totally ignore their studies. They do not feel hunger, keep crying, feel lonely, and tend to focus on unwanted events, lose their interest in everything and keep irritating everybody and everything.
Some ladies are home makers or house wives. They are under tremendous stress as they have to face many challenges. This implies looking after all the household chores, attending the guests, maintaining the relationships, guiding their children in studies, caring for the in-laws, keeping their spouses happy, and most importantly, carrying all the above with the guilt of ‘ I am not employed’. They are not aware that household chores and looking after the house is equally important because all the members of the family take her for granted. The members totally ignore the fact that she too might have some hobbies, which she can still pursue while taking care of the house. This ignorance may make her irritated and she may be dissatisfied. The way she praises and inspires every member of the family, similarly she also expects that she should be respected and treated as an independent personality and that every member should interact with her not only to satisfy his/ her need. But this expectation is not fulfilled and the effects of stress are seen physically.
From all the above examples, it is observed that we all live our life with stress. Stress is an inseparable part of our lives. Why are we all under stress? The underlying reason is that we all feel that we are entirely dependent on somebody. Hence if ‘somebody’ behaves against us, we blame him / her, feel irritated and get angry.
Another side of stress is most common i.e. Worry …
Time it is half past eight. Everyday my Rupali is at home by eight. Today she is not yet at home. What could be the reason? Has something really disappointing taken place? Be it Delhi or Pune, girls are insecure everywhere. After that Delhi event, if Rupali is delayed even for a smaller duration, I am extremely worried for her. Plenty of unwanted thoughts captivate my mind. One after the other worries flow in my mind.
I always carry my umbrella, raincoat, sweater, scarf etc with me. I am scared of the rains and the flu that follows due to rains. Nowadays Pune is a prey for many epidemics. If I catch cough and cold, I am extremely scared that I might have been a prey of Swine flu. Moving around free of tension is not possible nowadays.
Usually, similar conversations are often heard by us. Almost 70-80 percent of the people linger around with a carriage of such undersigned burden. But what is this burden about? The burden is a type of “virtual pavor”!
Actually pavor or fear need not be baleful every time. Fear is a natural sentiment or emotion. In fact this emotion is beneficial several times. For instance while crossing the road; the fear of vehicles is natural and obvious. It is because of this fear that we cross the road with caution and safely. Similarly a feeling of being scared during the examinations is natural. It is this feeling that motivates us to study more and more in a better manner.
But what if this fear is in excess? At this moment, ‘worry’ is born. Worry is giant image of fear. The event that scares me, will that unwanted event really occur? If it does, what will be my condition? Such negative and virtual thoughts permanently rule my mind resulting into worry.
Now note that in the above example, the virtual fear that what will be the condition if a similar incident that took place in Delhi, would occur with Rupali, made her mother worry to such an extent that a small delay due to any other reason, affected her mother and she was always under pressure and restless.
Similarly, even if there is no monsoon, just due to the virtual fear of Swine Flu, many people carry umbrella-raincoats permanently. Though they are not sure of the occurrence of a certain event, the possibility of the occurrence of the event scares them, and worries them about what would be their condition then, and hence they prefer carrying the burden and finally feel helpless and half-dead. Similar such events that scare them manifest into worries and scoop the lives of many people. In the future, worries like, perhaps an accident may take place, perhaps I may fall prey to an imprecise disease, become an inseparable part of their lives. Such worries do not let the individual to live a healthy and active life. Unknowingly, such a worry becomes a habit in our daily lives, and becomes our nature. I worry for myself meaninglessly, and I worry for my near and dear ones, and these useless worries keep me away from enjoying the today. Worries… and these worries make carry the routine chores mechanically. Time, energy and morale are wasted in carrying this burden of worries. The growth in an individual is stunted due to giant in disguise of worry.
However, as an individual every human being has to face small-big problems. It is a mandatory aspect of life. But what we call as dangerous hazard or jeopardy is faced by very few. But the simple worries that follow us like a shadow develop into a misfortune. Factually, a problem and hazard are different. But the giant disguised in worry reduces their difference. We loosen the thread of our imagination, fail to think about the circumstances conscientiously, do not understand it and stick labels of adjectives like horrible and terrible. Deep in the heart, keep thinking about it. Consequently, fall prey to tremendous mental anxiety, permanent insecurity, depression, frustration and lose liveliness, enthusiasm, happiness and pleasure of our lives.
If we honestly want to get our lives free from the ghettos of worry, self-help and if the need be, the help of a counselor can lead us to some solutions. The moment, you feel depressed; try to find the root cause of the depression. Many times the mind is scared and helpless. But the reason behind it is not clear. Hence some extra efforts have to be taken to look for the main underlying reason. The root cause of the negative thought that arose in the mind is a succession of which thought has to be traced. This will make easy to search for the root cause. A fearful image is created in the mind subject to these negative thoughts. Assuming this image as truth, mental condition is developed. Under such conditions, you can accept a thoughtful challenge like,
- How can I assume that such a hazardous incident will certainly occur? What is the specific thought that leads me to think so? Do I have evidences that prove that such an event can certainly occur? Till date, have similar such incidents really occurred in my lives? How many of the incidents that worried me in the past, have really taken place? How many of the last years worries have been carried forward and really occurred for the next year? And if all these worries have not turned into reality, then how am I assured that the imaginative thoughts that linger in my mind today will turn in to a reality?
- In the world, if such incidents can occur anywhere, then is it wise for me to conscientiously think, against the laws of the nature, and insist, that I should not be a prey to such incidents; I must be an exceptional case for all this, and all such incidents.
- And now if the circumstances are really hazardous then I should first mandatorily accept it. Then I should think about the measures that can be taken to avoid it. Instead of just worrying, feeling helpless about it and falling prey to it, I should try to find the options to fight the circumstances and find solutions for it.
The root cause of stress and worry is the feeling that every behavior must be as per my wish. The way we live and think causes ourselves to be stressed. To summarize, to lead a happy life we should follow the well-said Chinese proverb, ‘let us not allow the birds of worry and stress to make a nest on our heads.’ This will not happen automatically. It is necessary to enroot these virtual and meaningless worries with considerable efforts, experiments and honesty.