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How to cope up with pressure

Stress makes the headlines every day. But it’s often misunderstood. Different people react to it differently, and what may make one person anxious, pressured or stressed may barely ruffle the feathers of another.

brunch Updated: May 19, 2012 18:45 IST
Shikha Sharma
Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times

Stress makes the headlines every day. But it’s often misunderstood. Different people react to it differently, and what may make one person anxious, pressured or stressed may barely ruffle the feathers of another. We all have varying levels of vulnerability to stress, and these levels change throughout our lives. When we have a stressor in one area of our life, it’s usually possible to handle it adequately. But it’s when there are aggressors on all fronts that we are likely to be overwhelmed. This is when the trouble begins – when the stress is so extreme, it starts to interfere with our long-term health.

Stress has a unique effect on the body. It changes the production levels of some hormones we produce, namely cortisol (which, in turn, affects other hormones linked to cortisol) and leads to stress-related obesity. Here’s how:

Stress-related eating
Sugar cravings: Most people like sweets. But if you crave a sugar rush and get restless if you don’t get any, then it’s a sign of stress-related sweet consumption.

Putting on weight around the stomach: Increased levels of cortisol create an artificial sugar craving, causing us to store it deep inside the tissue and leads to fat deposits around the stomach. To understand how this is different from weight gain in general, look at people who are overweight but whose fat is distributed all over the body. Now compare them to people whose are generally slim but carry a lot of weight around the stomach.

Water retention
Several things can cause water retention: late dinners, heavy salt intake, too much oily food, excessive alcohol consumption (in women), a weak liver, a weak kidney, a mature pregnancy, steroid treatments and heavy medication. But of these, stress and late dinners are biggest culprits. Stress is behind almost 80 per cent of cases.

Weight Issues
When they are not stressed, most women can lose weight without difficulty. But under stress, increased cortisol levels put your body in anxiety mode, causing you to conserve energy, making it harder to lose weight, and leaving you upset, angry and frustrated. Stressed people feel they’re always running against the clock, and are in a constant state of panic. This only fuels unhealthy eating practices further. Incapacitated by stress, people find it almost impossible to follow a dietary regime or make healthy food choices. action

Feeling stressed out lately? Here’s what you can do to calm down:

Heal with water: Water is an excellent relaxant. Hot water relaxes the body, while cold water has an invigorating effect. To relax tired nerves, take a 10-minute steam bath and follow with a normal-temperature shower. To invigorate yourself, take a steam bath and top up with a cool shower.

Listen to music: Music has therapeutic effects and can be used to de-stress yourself. Chanting “Om” is very helpful and can be practiced easily for 10 minutes early in the morning and before going to bed. Buddhist chanting, Sufi music and bhajans are very calming as well.

Go for a walk: A nice walk will help you absorb the chi or nature’s healing energy, which most of us, in our caged-in concrete existences, miss out on. Greenery does wonders for tired and fatigued nerves.

Detoxify: Once every week, avoid cereals, and have only fruits, salads, aloe vera and barley juice.

Breathe better: A good way to de-stress is to harness the power of the unconscious mind, also known as the healing part of the mind. It’s where you do not experience mental chatter and clutter. Two techniques can be used to enter this space – progressive relaxation (like with yoga), and self-hypnosis. Progressive relaxation calms the mind and prepares it for a meditative state. CDs focus on the music and frequencies suitable for helping the mind achieve relaxation. But if you like reading, pick up books by great masters like Swami Vivekananda.

Stress management is an art but it is also a science. It’s easy to get bogged down by anxiety. But give yourself the discipline to break free and you body will eventually reap the rewards.

Repair your electrolyte balance
Since stress leads to water retention, it is important to get your body to stop holding on to excess fluid. The most important ingredients for water management are simple herbs that cause dieresis.

Barley water: Soak barley granules overnight and boil in water till it forms a decoction. Barley water is an excellent diuretic.

Lemon jeera water: Boil jeera for a few minutes, take off the flame and add lemon juice. Cool and drink.

Salt-free dinners: For a few days, avoid salt in your dinner. This is a simple and powerful way to free yourself from water retention.

Jasmine flowers: When boiled in water and taken as a decoction, the blooms are very helpful in flushing excess fluid.

From HT Brunch, May 20

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First Published: May 18, 2012 17:59 IST

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