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Stress: Can you Perceive it in Yourself?

Many may not be knowing whether or how much stressed they are. This is often the case when family, friends or the doctor may see it in your face, behavior or clinical symptoms and suspect it, while you may not be able to recognize it and go on denying it. 

We are familiar with only one of the stages of stress: the fright-flight-fight response.. If a loss of job or death of a near one seems possible or imminent, a person with average insight is usually able to recognize the animal called stress stirring, growling or whining somewhere inside you.

The second stage of stress, that of “resistance” or coping, is when one struggles and fights on, sometimes for long periods, often not realizing that a battle is still raging on. It may becomes a habit for years. This stage is often overlooked.

This is when heart rate, blood pressure, headaches, bowel symptom, irregular periods or sleep disturbances could take center stage, with several rounds of visits to doctors, tests and medicines. 

The third stage is one of exhaustion…as might be expected to occur after any prolonged battle that drains you. 

Psychologists, led by Dr Cohen, therefore came up with a Perceived Stress Scale (PSC) to help people make a self-assessment and take control of their own stress levels before they cause problems. It can be taken on-line  www.bemindfulonline.com/test-yc.

The key questions posed are 10, but the short form with 4 key questions that you need to answer are below. 

Looking back at the last month:

  1. How often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?
  2. How often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?
  3. How often have you felt that things were going your way?
  4. How often have you felt confident that you can handle your personal problems?

You would notice that questions 1 and 2 assess negative emotions while 3 and 4 your positive coping ones, hence the way they are scored are different.

Recognizing or perceiving stress is not an admission of weakness as many fear, but an opportunity to take control of it before it causes harm and spoils your quality of life (QOL). I think every person should introspect and explore it  in today’s day and age.

Contributed by-

Dr. (Prof) Gourdas Choudhuri,
Chairman, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepato-biliary Sciences,
Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, Haryana.
The article has been published in HT City, Lucknow.
To read more articles by Dr. G. Choudhuri, please visit www.drgchoudhuri.net

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