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Health and Stress Management

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“Clouds come floating into my life, not to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Similarly, work and studies are here to add success to our lives and not to cause stress and health problems.

Good Morning Everyone. My name is Abhinav Jain and I am a student of CA Final. Today, I am going to present my views on the topic “Health and Stress Management”.Nowadays, we CA Students are neglecting some of the most important issues in our lives. These are Health and Stress related issues. We all are experiencing them, but are helpless about them. We have no idea how to deal with them. All of us have heard the cliché that “ CA studies are stressful “. But before arriving at any conclusion, we need to understand what is stress, what are it’s types, what causes stress and how does it impact us. Then only we can take specific measures of overcoming stress.

Well, to define it, “Stress is a physical, mental or emotional response to events which causes physical or mental tension.” Stress is a part of everyone’s life. But it should not be greater than the individual’s capacity to handle stress. If such a case occurs, it will cause mental and physical imbalance in the individual. Stress should work as a productive power and not as a restriction which can cause physical and mental imbalance.

There are 3 types of stress:

(i) Physical: This happens when the human body suffers due to stressful situation. Symptoms of physical stress are Headaches, Neck Pain, Stiffness of Muscles and Insomnia.

(ii) Emotional: This happens when the stress affects an individual’s MIND. Symptoms of emotional stress are Anxiety, Anger, Depression, Memory Loss, Lack of concentration and many more. Anxiety is response to fear of Unknown. Anger is a response to Frustration. Depression is the response to upsetting events like death of a loved one, illness or failure.

(iii) Psychological: Stress for a long period of time might lead to a PSYCHOLOGICAL problem. Symptoms of this type of stress are Social Isolation Phobias, Compulsive Behavior Eating Disorders and Night terrors.

If we go further, Stress can be classified into two types: Positive stress (Eustress) and Negative stress (Distress). A low level of stress can be handled by body with the help of resources and it includes positive emotions like, enjoyment, satisfaction, excitement, etc. This beneficial part of stress is defined by Selye (1974) as Eustress. Excessive stress for long period of time may first cause an unpleasant feeling and then it may cause physical damage, fatigue and in extreme cases, death of an individual. This bad part of stress is defined by Selye as distress.

Now, the next question that comes to our mind is what is the source of this dreadful thing called Stress. Or we can say, what are the causes of Stress?

(i) Environmental Factors: The uncertainty in environment affects stress levels of employees in an organization. Changes in the business cycle cause economic uncertainties. Political uncertainties may also cause stress. Technological uncertainty may also cause stress because an employee’s skills and experience may become outdated due to new innovations.

(ii) Organizational factors: Pressure to avoid errors or to complete tasks within a fixed period of time, work overload, or even a demanding boss may cause stress. Job related factors like job design, working conditions and physical work layout may be causes of stress. Pressure on an individual due to his role in the organization is also a cause of stress. Role conflicts create expectations that might not be satisfied. Role overload, i.e., working more than permitted time is one cause of stress. Role ambiguity, another cause, is created when role expectations are not clearly understood. The pressure created by other employees can also lead to stress. Organizational structure is also a cause of stress. Excessive rules and lack of participation in decisions are all sources of stress.

(iii) Individual Factors: These are factors in an employee’s personal life. These include family issues, personal economic problems and an individual’s personality. Broken families, broken marriages and other family issues may cause stress at the workplace. An economic problem faced by individuals also leads to stress. A person’s basic nature also affects stress. Over suspiciousness, anger, enmity and mistrust increase a person’s stress and risk for heart diseases.

(iv) Individual Differences: Five factors related to individual differences regulate the relationship between potential stressors and experienced stressors:

(a) Perception: Controls the relationship between stress condition and an employee’s reaction to it. Stress is not caused by condition; it is caused by employee’s interpretation of the conditions.

(b) Locus of control: People with internal locus of control believe that they are responsible for their destiny or fate. People with external locus of control believe that their fate depends on external factors. Internals feel that their jobs are less stressful than do externals. Externals are more passive and helpless than the internals.

(c) Job experience: Experience on the job is negatively related to work stress. If experience on the job is good, there is no stress and vice versa.

(d) Self-efficacy: If a person has confidence in his/her own abilities, stress decreases.

(e) Hostility: People who are short tempered have an unfriendly attitude, mistrust other and are more likely to become stressed.

Now we all are aware of Causes of stress. Let’s see what are the Consequences of stress or we say the effects of stress.

Consequences of Stress manifest themselves in three ways: Physiological symptoms, Psychological symptoms and Behavioral symptoms.

(i) Physiological Symptoms: Earlier, stress was mainly considered as physiological symptom because specialists in the health and medical sciences did research on the topic. But the physiological symptoms of stress are of very little importance to students of Organizational Behavior.

(ii) Psychological Symptoms: Job related stress can cause job related dissatisfaction. Job dissatisfaction is the “simplest and most obvious psychological effect” of stress. High demands and lack of clarity about employee’s duties, authority and responsibilities increase dissatisfaction and thus, increase stress. Lesser the control people have on their speed of work, moreis the stress and dissatisfaction.

(iii) Behavioral Symptoms: Stress symptoms related to behavior are: Changes in productivity, changes in eating habits, increased smoking, use of alcohol and Sleep disorders.

Along with Stress Management we should not ignore another very important of Life that is Health Management. It is a very old maxim that “Health is Wealth” and so, what we should strive for is good health. Health Management is quite similar to Stress Management. Lord Buddha has rightly said:

“Without Health, Life is not Life;

It is just a state of Languor and Suffering “

Many of us have a misconception about the definition of Health.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and spiritual well being and not merely the absence of disease.”

Let’s see the Remedies for fighting ill-Health and Stress:

Think about the ways you currently employ to manage and cope with stress in your life.  Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.

These are the unhealthy ways of coping with stress. These strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause damage in the long run.

(i) Smoking.

(ii) Consuming alcohol.

(iii) Overeating or Under-eating.

(iv) Taking Drugs (Narcotics), which in fact is immoral and illegal.

(v) Sleeping too much.

(vi) Procrastinating things (unnecessary delaying one’s tasks).

Now, we shall look into the correct ways of coping with Health and Stress Related issues:

1. Stress Relief Strategies:

Body Relaxation Exercises like:

a. Breathing exercises

b. Guided Imagery (playing a soft music)

2. Physical Exercises:

a. Yoga.

b. Aerobics.

c. Work out routine. (jogging, gym, cycling, swimming)

Somebody has rightly said “Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness”. So, for health reasons, it is highly recommended that we give at least 30 minutes everyday for physical exercises. It not only keeps us physically fit, but also increases our metabolism rate and brings spontaneity to perform tasks comfortably.

3. Healthy Eating:

a. Drinking at least 2-3 litres of Water daily. It helps in Detoxification as well as keeps us cool and hydrated.

b. Eating a variety of foods like green leafy vegetables, fruit, etc that are good in nutrients.

c. Maintaining an optimum weight.

d. Avoiding oily and fatty items like Chips and Burgers. Even though they might seem irresistible, but we will have to forego them otherwise we will have to find time for various health problems like obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and the like.

4. Other Tips:

a. Changing perceptions

b. Breaking up tasks in smaller tasks so that it becomes easier to handle them.

c. Setting realistic goals.

d. Avoiding procrastination.

e. Setting certain boundaries and timelines to complete your tasks.

f. Getting enough sleep.

g. Avoiding late night eating. Doctors recommend that there should be a gap of minimum two-three hours between Food Intake and the sleep.

h. Taking small breaks in between the tasks.

The Key Word is BALANCE.

Most importantly, we should maintain a positive attitude towards life. There is a very famous quote by Paulo Coelho written in his book “The Alchemist”:

“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie.”

So Friends, we should not give up to these stress factors. Instead, we should deal with them in a positive manner. These stress factors are meant to ensure “The Survival of the Fittest”. That’s what Darwin’s Theory of evolution states. Every person on Earth faces problems and becomes stressed about them. Bill Gates and Mukesh Ambani also face problems. Even a poor man does. But it is their way of coping with stress that sets them apart from all the stressed people on this planet. Remember, you are strong enough to capture the whole universe just like “Alexander, the Great” did. The logo of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India depicting the “Eagle” is in itself a very big example of this.

“Aim High, Fly high”

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