Stress Management by Alok Chakrawal

Life on a happy, content note

The term stress was used for the first time in 1926 to refer to factors that disrupted stable human mind.

Life on a happy, content note

Kuldip Singh Dhir

The term stress was used for the first time in 1926 to refer to factors that disrupted stable human mind. In 1930, Hans Selye used it in an organic framework. Materialistic culture, increased workloads, and a rise in personal ambitions land most people in the quagmire of stress today. It is now a part and parcel of our life, just like tension in a violin string. It should be just enough to make music, but not as much that it snaps the string. Chakrawal and Goyal have analysed stress and its management in all-possible dimensions in this comprehensive treatise on the subject.

It begins with conceptual perceptions and characteristics of stress, classifying it according to timeline and on psychological basis. Physical, mental, emotional and behavioural symptoms of stress are further elaborated upon. The authors deem it an integral part of life from birth to death, with its nature undergoing change all along. Infants, children and adolescent experience stress, which is age-group specific. Parents and teachers will benefit from this book by knowing potential factors and remedial measures. Awareness about its nature in youth, domestic life, work place, and old age can help overcome many a disaster. Individual, parents, colleagues, spouse, boss, relatives — all of them individually or collectively —  can be both a part of the problem or solution.

Infidelity, infertility, parental interference, neighbours, financial issues, irritable behaviour and problems in sharing responsibility have been enumerated as major causes of marital stress in this work. Similarly, admissions, time schedules, parental expectations, competition, placement, and infatuations have been listed as precipitating factors in students and youth. Moving further, poor interpersonal relations, wrong choice of job, inappropriate working conditions, conflicts at work place, unrealistic targets, discrimination, and lack of credit and incentives have been mentioned as important sources of job-related stress. Lust for money may create unnecessary stress, whereas poor financial planning can also make life a hell.

Healthy human relations, amiable behaviour and deftness in social communication can make us relatively stress-free, whereas emotional outbursts queer the pitch. Modern life has its own problems triggered by technological revolution, pollution, nuclear families, loss of personal identity, and consumerism. Nuggets of valuable insights on all such issues are there in this book.

Our first reaction to stress is that of general adaptation, wherein the body releases adrenaline and psychological mechanisms to combat the situation. If the causes of stress are not removed, it becomes chronic. Fatigue, concentration lapses, irritability, lethargy, depression, and a morbid immune system are the result. The situation may further deteriorate and unfold as lack of confidence, pessimism, withdrawal, cynicism, burnout, and even suicide. 

The authors write that it is some sort of stress or pressure that keeps things going. Too little of it leaves people unchallenged and their performance levels low. Too much of it also undermines the performances due to its negative impact. We must strive for an optimum level of stress. 

Coming to the management of stress, they suggest categorisation of problems causing stress. They underline the fact that only 10 per cent of these have a lasting impact on our life and 70 per cent of our efforts should be focused on these. Those having intermediate effect are 20 per cent and need a proportionate attention. The 70 per cent problems are due to our living in past or future, oblivious of the present and these can be taken care of by simple changes in our mental disposition. We can break the vicious cycle of stress by combating it at any point with a big push of determined courage and strong willpower.

As a self-help manual, this volume contains four multiple-choice questionnaires to measure stress related to work, money, family, and status. By making our own stress-appraisal on the basis of these, we can take corrective measures. This may need imaginative management of time, money, anger, people and engagements. Realistic goals, delegation of authority, learning to say or accept a no may be helpful. Rest, recreation, hobby, meditation, and physical exercise may pep up our life. We have no control over others, but we certainly can control ourselves. 

A brief discussion on remedial role of yoga, ayurvedic, allopathic, and homoeopathic medicines is a useful feature of this work. The book blends the wisdom of the East and the West, with personal experiences of stress-management programmers conducted by the authors, making it a warm and arresting read. 


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