What is Stress?

Severe stress triggered by a life-threatening event or other traumatic situations, can cause flashbacks that play like a broken record in the mind.

By: Dr. Balasa Prasad and Dr. Preetham Grandhi

What is Stress?

Stress is the emotional discomfort we often feel when things do not go as planned in our lives or a deep mental anguish triggered by adversity. Stress is the nemesis of three elements we all need—peace of mind, good health, and the spirit of freedom. Whether stress results from day-to-day burdens, an addiction, a phobia, conflicts at work or with family members, or the seeming impossibility of reaching a life goal, it stands in the way of living a pleasant, productive, secure, and meaningful life. Severe stress triggered by a life-threatening event or other traumatic situations, such as a parent losing a child, can cause flashbacks that play like a broken record in the mind. I have seen stress, like a termite, eat the body and mind of an individual from the inside out.

Why is Stress Bad for US?

If unchecked, stress incapacitates us and prevents us from reaching our full potential. Psychologically, stress keeps us from taking charge of our destinies by undermining our courage, clarity, and confidence. Physically, stress wreaks havoc on the body. When we are stressed-out, we are more prone to developing

• gastric ulcers, which may turn to cancer

• high blood pressure

• heart problems

• breathing problems

• insomnia

• neurological problems, such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and stroke

• diabetes

• immunological problems, such as eczema and psoriasis

In reality, no system of the body can escape the wrath of stress.

Why Must We Conquer Stress Rather Than Manage It?

There is a big difference between managing stress and conquering stress. Managing stress means you allow it to continue to exist and learn only how to cope with it when it crops up. That means stress will continue to accompany you everywhere and bother you at every twist and turn of your life. Managing stress uses up time and energy that might be better spent working to reach your goals. Conquering stress, on the other hand, means freeing yourself from it forever, which will allow you to travel light. People who travel light journey far and fast toward their goals. Because stress is generated inside us, if we want to conquer it, we have no choice but to defeat it on its own turf and terms.

First Case in Point:
An individual who experiences high levels of stress before and during airline travel might manage this problem by avoiding flying altogether or by taking anti-anxiety medications (such as Xanax, Valium, or Propranolol), or even by drinking alcohol to calm his nerves before and during a flight. He might also employ relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation. These measures may appease stress for short periods, but they do not conquer it. In fact, managing this type of stress only guarantees that the individual who fears flying will be held hostage to that fear for the rest of his life. However, an individual who addresses all irrational fears—including the fear of flying—at their root can conquer stress and free himself to pursue his goals without hindrance from any source.

Second Case in Point:
An unhappy marriage inflicts pain, suffering, and stress on those involved. It takes a toll on their emotional well-being, their physical health, their professional performance, their personal security, and their spirits. Trying to manage this situation by ignoring the facts and opting for temporary relief in the form of antidepressants  tranquilizers, smoking and alcohol, or cheating on one’s spouse will make matters only worse. The only way to conquer stress in this situation is for the couple to face the facts with courage, understand them with clarity, and take appropriate action with confidence.

In my opinion, there are only two choices for an unhappily married couple who wants to lead a stress-free life. Either they identify their differences and resolve them amicably, or they dissolve the marriage and move forward separately. The first option is the best option, especially if children are involved. Happily married couples lead productive, secure, and stress-free lives and provide a wonderful example to their children. I have been happily married for forty-three years. My wife and I are best friends. We support and protect each other without hesitation because we care for, respect, and trust each other—three elements necessary to bind a couple.

A happy marriage calls for a lot of give and take between partners, but give and take doesn’t work when someone is keeping score. Partners must give their best unreservedly to the partnership, and when both partners do so, balance and happiness are the result. I believe marriage is an equal partnership and that neither gender nor earning capacity should rule the household. Both parties play an equally important role in keeping the house in order. Truth be told, my wife makes more adjustments to accommodate me than I make for her, and that makes me love her more. Being happily married certainly makes conquering stress in other areas of life much easier. It is no secret that children from happy marriages are physically stronger and mentally more stable than children whose parents are stressed about their marriage.

How Can Each of Us Lead a Stress-Free Life?

Can an individual truly conquer such a powerful demon as stress? I can tell you, unequivocally, yes! I beat stress at its own game and on its own turf, and if I did it, anyone with an ounce of pride can do it as well. I began life in a home run by happily married parents, but even so, it took some time and personal growth for me to get in touch with myself, with my surroundings, and with Nature (Our Maker). Through life’s many lessons, I have learned to strive to bring out my best, make the most of my life, and improve the world within my limits.

I know now that my own salvation rests with leading a simple, straightforward, and sanguine life according to the laws of Nature. Nature has given me the gifts of life, health, compassion, and reasonable intelligence, and it dictates that I safeguard and develop these gifts. I will never compromise these principles under any circumstances. When I have to endure hardships, I do so with no regrets. And even the most serious hardships cannot take away the values I will uphold until my last breath. Hitherto, my strategy has served me well: I lead a peaceful, prosperous, productive life.

I have also watched scores of my patients conquer stress using the same method I used. None of us did it, however, with a quick fix or a magic pill. My approach, while simple, is not necessarily easy to implement  You cannot conquer stress by flipping a few chemical switches in the brain. Stress is a problem of the mind, not the brain—the psychological rather than the physical—and our minds have ingrained thought patterns that are often challenging to change.

My method encourages neither optimism nor pessimism but plain realism. For example, we all know that we are not permanent residents of this world but temporary passengers who live for only a short period on this earth. Keeping this fact at the forefront of our minds helps us adjust our priorities and expectations to the realities of life. Realists have the courage and the will to accept the world as it exists. Realists do not have to like the facts of life, but they must have the audacity to face them as they unfold.

My Turning Point Program is based on my own experience and the experiences of my many patients. Anyone can conquer stress by systematically adopting a pragmatic outlook and a healthy attitude.

Excerpted from The Turning Point © Copyright 2012 by Balasa Prasad and Preetham Grandhi. Reprinted with permission by the authors. All rights reserved.

About the Authors:
Dr. Prasad is a British trained psychiatrist and an American trained, Board Certified Anesthesiologist. He founded this Behavior Management clinic in 1980. He was introduced to Truth Serum Treatments while he was a resident in Psychiatry in England. Over the past three decades, he has developed “The Turning Point Program,” for Stress and it’s related problems and perfected his “Turning Point Treatments” to treat stress, addictions and phobias. He is the author of the book “The Turning Point:  Conquering Stress with Courage, Clarity and Confidence.” He is the author of “Stop Smoking For Good, Stop Gambling For Good & Stop Gambling For Good, the free E-book Universal Sense: The blue Print For Success.”

Dr. Grandhi is an Albert Einstein and Yale trained Board Certified Adult, Child & Adolescent psychiatrist. He joined Dr. Prasad as an associate in the year 2000. His Child & Adolescent practice is based on The Turning Point Program’s philosophy and is used to resolve numerous child and parenting issues. He is the author of the “Childhood Stress” chapter in the book “The Turning Point:  Conquering Stress with Courage, Clarity and Confidence.” He is the author of the award winning psychological thriller “A Circle Of Souls,” & a contributing author to the free E-book “Universal Sense: The blue Print For Success.”

Photo: RenaudPhoto