What Is ‘Stress’ And How Can You Manage It?

Author : Shreya Mukherjee


Stress is the physiological and psychological reaction of the body to external factors of environment, physical or social situations that we perceive as troublesome. Different individuals have varying reactions to a stressor.


Stress can be caused by any event that we perceive as disruptive to our wellbeing, for example- examinations, public speaking, work overload, death of an acquaintance, etc. There are various sources of stress for people of all age groups. In the case of students, they face academic pressure, peer and parental pressure, social pressures. Those employed may be burdened with overwork and performance appraisals. Financial troubles and change in the environment while attending university or work may also take their toll. Worries about the future or career paths and goals plague many individuals.

There are certain common abilities that lack which cause problems in daily life like the lack of time management and organisational skills. The inability to meet certain expectations of those around accompanied by low motivation and procrastination lead to piling of work causing strain. Often times if the work or school atmosphere is unsupportive, or a mismatch with the individual there is a disconnect formed between the individual and his environment.

Neglecting physical health, the lack of adequate rest from work, or continuous work overload, sleep deprivation, an unhealthy diet will adversely affect the mind and body.


Stress has numerous short and long term effects and none of them is remotely positive. Anxiety, aggression, irritability, mental instability and several emotional and cognitive disorders develop if stress is not dealt with swiftly. Severe stress leads to decreased efficiency and productivity, decreased motivation, which affects all aspects of life. Since the body is constantly in a flight-or-fight state, secreting unusual amounts of cortisol hormones, in the long run, it develops psychosomatic and behavioural disorders and hormonal imbalances. Interpersonal relationships and social interactions may also be affected. At some point, self-depreciatory thoughts may start to take root leading to long term concerns.


Ways of coping with stress are numerous and unique to each individual. There are certain basic methods that are applicable to all: Prioritizing and categorising the tasks to be done is the key to efficiency. Proper time management is essential and organising and planning ahead will avoid a backlog of work. One must remember to take adequate breaks to avoid burnout or overexertion. When a major task is to be completed, try dividing the task mentally into smaller blocks and achieving each block or self-set goal one by one will result in self-satisfaction and motivation to continue.

Get adequate rest and sleep and maintain a healthy diet because compromising health has never done any good. Treat yourself to exercise or yoga or simply some breathing techniques that help relax the tense muscles of the body. Sometimes we ourselves are unaware of how tensed our bodies are until told.

Develop a calming ritual, a (or series of) short action that helps reset your mind and trigger relaxation response in your body. This will enable returning the body to its normal vital levels from the flight-or-fight state.

Pick up hobbies like playing an instrument or sport that act as a break from the work and are positive skills that will benefit you. You listen to music or watch something that is soothing to you. You may read Byron to relax or enjoy digital coding to soothe yourself. What each individual may find comforting vary so do not try to force a method on yourself that may have worked for others.

Work on your emotional intelligence for better communication and articulation and overall improved social environment. Sometimes taking the initiative to change the environment leads to positive effects.

Avoid internalising your negative emotions for the long term. Share it with your friends or family or a therapist and seek their support. Bottling negative emotions and stress will eventually lead to emotional explosion and mental breakdown. One must have a constant outlet to destress at regular intervals.

In conclusion, identifying the stressor and analysing it is essential to developing coping techniques that are suited to an individual. Stress is inevitable at some point in time whether be it in school or the workplace. The methods to cope with it are unique to each individual. Sometimes these methods need time and practice in order to be implemented. Hence it is always better to nip it in the bud if we cannot avoid it completely and not allow stress to become chronic.