Today in Yoga classes I have been talking about the way in which the stratification of society along numerous lines including racial, religious, and socio-economic, and others, leads to friction due to the number of daily interactions with other individuals of differing views. Many of these interactions tend to be passive-aggressive or outright aggressive. These competitive or adversarial encounters, causes us to feel stress, anxiety, and fear. These feelings, while cognitive in nature, manifest in our physical bodies. There are releases of adrenaline and cortisol that prepare the body for “Fight or Flight”. Many people spent too much time in this physically stressed state. This leads the body to dis – ease. To counter the stressors of everyday life, many people turn to abuses of alcohol, drugs, food, and more to manage the pressure that stress brings. Others use distractions such as movies, television, social media, video games and the like to distract themselves from the stress and anxiety they are feeling. In the extreme, stress is causing people who are normally peaceful, to pick up guns and shoot other people. These are all dysfunctional ways of managing stress. The people who are involved in these shooting typically do not seem to have a history of mental illness. Social stressors push them “over the edge”. It appears that many of them feel bullied. They are either bullied in their school by a fellow student, at work by a fellow employee, by a large corporate entity, or by a lawyer at mediation. As there is increased stress in our society, I fear that we will see many more of these extreme actions in the future. Something has to change. More people have to learn to effectively and holistically reduce stress.
Yoga in the physical and meditative practices is one of the most effective ways to manage not only the physical manifestations of stress, but to work with the underlying mental images causing anxiety and stress. Many yoga practitioners are not aware of this stress reducing benefit of a regular yoga practice. They just have the experience of relaxation. It is this feeling of release and relaxation that brings them back to the practice consistently. Yoga as a stress reducing practice is very well documented in thousands of studies. Here is a link to one from the mayo clinic:
Here is a link to some more information on stress.
Here is an exerpt from a study on stress and anxiety:
“We are living in an era of growing complexities and pressure where human constitution and capacities are being taxed severely. The stresses relating to job have become predominant feature of modern life, exerting far reaching effects on focal employee’s behavior and adjustments as well as off-the-job. Job stress is generally defined din times of relationship between person and environment. McGrath (1976) has noted that a stress involves in interaction of person and environment. To define stress he said “……….. there is a potential for stress when an environmental situation is perceived as presenting demand which threatens to meeting it, under conditions where he expects a substantial differential in the rewards and costs from meeting the demand of not meeting it.” Psychologist and management scientists have different views about potential Psychological and situational conditions or job factors which cause job stress. Stress is the excitement, feeling of anxiety, and/or physical tension that occurs when the demands placed on an individual are thought to exceed his ability to cope. Stress can be divided into two types, acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress is short-termed and it is the reaction to an immediate threat, commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’ responses. Common acute stressors are: noise, crowding, isolation, hunger, danger, infection or remembering a dangerous event. Under most circumstances once the acute threat has passed, the bodily reaction returns to the normal, but when stressful situations come frequently, it, then become chronic which is long term in nature. Common chronic stressors are: ongoing highly pressured work, long-term relationship problems, loneliness and persistent financial worries.
Occupational Stress :
According to Dorsey (1994) and Karasek and Theorell(1990) for many people, a great deal of stressful events come from the workplace. Murphy(1995) found in a national survey of 600 workers, 46 percent of the subjects believed that their jobs were very stressful and more than a quarter of them said that the job was the greatest cause of stress in their lives. A 25-year report, published recently in the British Medical Journal, showed that stress at work more than doubles the risk of death from heart disease. Occupational stress is experienced when the demands of the work environment exceed the employees’ ability to cope with ( or control) them. Stress is not a disease, but if it is intense and goes on for some time, it can lead to mental and physical ill health. Being under pressure one can improve performance and give satisfaction when challenging objectives are achieved. It motivates individuals to learn new skills and master our jobs. When a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied. But when the challenge has turned into job demands that cannot be met, relaxation has turned to exhaustion, and a sense of satisfaction has turned into feelings of stress. In short, demand and pressures become too much, they lead to stress. Mental Health : Health is an indispensable quality in human being. It has been described as soil from which the finest flowers grow. Health indicates psychosomatic well-being. To Bhatia (1982 ) “health is a state of being hale, sound or whole in body and mind ”.
The preamble of the World Health Organization’s charter defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (Monopolis et al. 1977).
Thus, health is a broader concept including physical, social, and mental health. Mental health has been reported as an important factor influencing individual’s various behaviours, activities, happiness, and performance.
The Concept of Anxiety :
Anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a combination of biochemical changes in the body, the patient’s personal history and memory, and the social situation. As far as we know, anxiety is a uniquely human experience. Other animals clearly know fear, but human anxiety involves an ability, to use memory and imagination to move backward and forward in time, that animals do not appear to have. The anxiety that occurs in post-traumatic syndromes indicates that human memory is a much more complicated mental function than animal memory. Moreover, a large portion of human anxiety is produced by anticipation of future events. Without a sense of personal continuity over time, people would not have the “raw materials” of anxiety.”
“ A study of Job-stress, Job-involvement, Anxiety level and mental Health Among Maharashtra Police Constables ”. (A special reference to Aurangabad and Jalna District.) By: Dr. B. N. Barve.