International Conference on Stress: Health, Society and Technology (ICONS-HST)

Venue: Committee Room, School of Social Sciences

Location: New Delhi, Delhi, India

Event Date/Time: Apr 20, 2011 End Date/Time: Apr 21, 2011
Registration Date: Mar 31, 2011
Early Registration Date: Mar 15, 2011
Abstract Submission Date: Mar 15, 2011
Paper Submission Date: Mar 31, 2011
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Stress is our natural way of responding to the demands of our ever-changing world.1 Although
we all experience change and demands regularly, the way that we interpret these internal and
external changes directly affects the degree to which we feel stress. As a result, not all individuals interpret the same events as stressful; what may seem stressful to you may not be the same for your best friend, and vice versa.

Stress can be a result of both positive and negative experiences, and it is a necessary part of our daily lives. From an evolutionary standpoint stress was necessary for survival (i.e., imagine hunting large prey on which one’s entire tribe is dependent) and some stress continues to be a helpful part of our modern lives since it motivates us to accomplish tasks or make needed changes.We all feel the pressure of our environment during times of transition (i.e., at the time of high school graduation) and in preparation for significant life events (i.e., in anticipation of a job interview). Although response to stress is often adaptive (i.e., feeling stress before an exam may be a critical motivator in studying for it), too much stress or an inability to cope with it can cause negative emotional and physical symptoms, including, but not limited to, anxiety, irritability, and increased heart rate.

Although some stress is a natural and inevitable part of our lives, feeling burdened or unable to cope can be problematic and can seriously affect your mental and physical well being. Constantly being exposed to stressful situations can be over-stimulating and if we are constantly feeling stressed, we may begin to feel unable to manage the problems at hand. In order to avoid situations in which we feel “overloaded,” we must first identify what stresses us, what our threshold for stress is, and how we can most effectively manage stressful situations.

For many people, stress is a daily reality. Some events, such as an important sports competition or a deadline for a paper, can cause stress that helps motivate us to perform at our best. Unfortunately, stress often becomes a negative presence in our lives. As the above definition states, stress throws us off balance and can have serious health consequences if left unchecked. Learning how to manage stress will make you more able to handle challenging situations and significant events in your life.

Many external and internal factors can cause stress. Environment – We all have highly individual responses to the world around us. One person may feel equally comfortable in a small town and a big city whereas another person may be overwhelmed by a city’s noise, intense pace, and crowded streets. Events – From taking final exams to introducing your significant other to your family, many situations can lead to stress. Some examples of stressful events include personal or family illness, increased work load, roommate conflicts, and more. Multiple events often combine and can leave you feeling weighed down. Expectations – Many of us demand a lot from ourselves and from others. Examples of expectation-related stress include receiving lower grades than expected and not getting certain internships or jobs. Stress has a close link with perfectionism.

Using one or more of the following techniques can help you feel more relaxed. CREATE MIND/BODY BALANCE Practice deep breathing – This is both a short and long-term relaxation option. For a quick way to de-stress, take 10 deep breaths. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you exhale, imagine all of your stress and worries flowing out of your body. Using breathing exercises daily will leave you feeling calmer. Exercise – Many studies have demonstrated that exercise is one of the most effective forms of stress relief. Exercise can also counteract depression.

Try to pick an activity you enjoy. From a low-intensity activity like walking to a high-intensity activity like kick-boxing, all forms of physical exercise can be a big help. Sleep – This is one of the hardest areas to adjust for most people. Sleep is essential but sometimes the pressures of assignments and other commitments mean that we fall well below the 7-9 hours recommended. If you know you have a late night ahead, consider resting for 30 minutes to an hour in the afternoon. Eat well – Taking care of your body by giving it proper nutrients is extremely important. Try to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Drink plenty of water and take a multivitamin. Avoid excess sugar, caffeine, and other substances that will cause your energy levels to fluctuate dramatically.

POSITIVELY ADJUST YOUR ATTITUDE Know and respect your limits – Many of us try to impose order or control on areas over which we have little power. When facing a difficult situation, take a step back and evaluate which parts of the situation you have control over (your actions, etc.) and which parts you do not (others’ behavior). If you realize a situation is largely out of your hands, let it go rather than fighting it. Be an advocate for yourself instead of a critic. – Celebrate your successes rather than dwelling on what you perceive as your weaknesses. Visualize success – Before any big event, visualize the scenario.

Try to picture all aspects of the situation and how you might feel during the event. This kind of mental practice can make the actual event seem far less intimidating. REACH OUT Shift your focus – When stressed, many people focus their thoughts inward. This internal focus can heighten stress and anxiety. Rather than constantly thinking about the issues that are causing you stress, try to focus more on the external environment.

Talk to others – Sharing your feelings of frustration, worry, and more with others you are close to can help alleviate stress. Others’ perspectives can also help you see that while things may appear bleak, they are actually not as bad. Explore your spiritual side – Seeking spirituality can greatly reduce stress, regardless of your religious affiliation. Finding meaning and purpose can help you feel more joyful.


Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi