( By K. P. S. Kamath )
The Age of Stress
Author to Reader
Life is infinitely more stressful today than it was just a decade ago. Every passing year life?s demands are becoming more complex and harder to meet. And it is bound to get worse in the fast-paced twenty first century. Your choices are few: Learn all you can about stress and turn it to your advantage. Or, ignore it and pay a heavy penalty with your emotional, physical and financial health in an era of soaring health care costs.
However, it is not that easy to learn anything new about stress these days. Year after year we have heard from a variety of sources - newspapers, weekly magazines, television shows and how-to-cope books- all kinds of nonsense about stress management. And now the public does not know what to believe any more. The moment we hear or read the word ?stress?, words such as exercise, relaxation, meditation, hata-yoga, jogging, walking, hot-tub baths, fishing, massage, deep breathing and the like pop up in the mind. The erroneous belief that these essentially useless activities somehow help us deal with everyday life stress is so ingrained that it is almost impossible to convince most people, including medical professionals, otherwise. Every year more and more so-called experts are adding even more bizarre remedies: Eat a carrot a day; raise dogs; ride bicycle daily; sniff your spouse?s armpit, and the like.
The word ?stress? has become quite common in our daily vocabulary. People often glibly use the word in phrases such as, ?I feel so stressed-out!? If someone asked them, ?what exactly do you mean by stress?? their response probably would be one of complete bafflement: ?Oh! Let me think. Um! Uh.... Ah? Stress means.... Ah ... It means ..... Gee! I don?t know! What the heck is it anyway??
Essential to coping with stress is to understand how the mind works, and that the mind and the body are a highly integrated single unit. This could be made much easier by developing a simple model of the mind. To explain functions of various body organs doctors often compare them to certain commonly used objects: the heart to a four- chambered pump; the kidney to a highly selective filter; the lung to gas exchanging sponge, and the like. What model could we possibly use to explain brain's essential function we call the mind? Extremely complicated as it might seem to us at first blush, the mind and its function could still be easily explained by using some familiar objects that we use everyday. In this booklet I have built, step by step, a simple model of the mind to explain the phenomenon of stress. Where applicable, I have given brief anecdotes to illustrate the point I have tried to make.
All the information given in this book is based on my personal observations of over thirty thousand patients during my thirty-four years in the field of psychiatry. All opinions herein are mine alone. I have not based this guide on any ?studies? or ?investigations? or ?papers.? Commonsense, not convoluted theories, is the basis of this little guide. Welcome to the fascinating world of stress!