While it is true that humans do need some stress to relief us of our boredom of everyday living, excessive amount of stresses are however harmful.Stresses can come about from many different sources. The areas of stress commonly experienced often originate from our interpersonal relationship and daily connections with work, school, family, environment, health and various events of life. We are definitely uncomfortable when under stress. It is a situation that is unpleasant and threatens us both physically and mentally. In Buddhism such situations are often referred to as "the state of unsatisfactoriness" ?Dukkha. The Lord Buddha Gotama's formula of the Four Noble Truths (catu ariya saccani) encompasses those situations.

Too Much stress can lead to changes in behaviors. Under chronic stress the body's ability to cope eventually breaks down and more often than not results in physical illnesses such as coronary heart disease, hypertension and other psychological problems such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Signs and symptoms indicationg that we are under stress situation include:

1. Physical symptoms: frequent headaches, giddiness, breathlessness, bodyache, tiredness, tremors, heartburn or chest discomfort, diarrhea or constipation.

2. Emotional symptoms: insomnia, anxiety or fear, depression or low mood, proneness to crying, inability to make decision, inability to think around the problem, inability to solve problem, irritability or being easily angered.

Some stress-induced disorders include:
1. Psychosomatic disorders: hypertension, heart disease, asthma, peptic ulcer disease, eczema, tension headache or migraine, irritable bowel syndrome.

2. Minor Psychiatric disorders: anxiety states, depressive disorders, hypochondriasis, disturbed emotional and social life.

Dealing with stressful situations is not easy. We cannot remove stress in toto as they are part and parcel of everyday living. We can however with our Buddhist training minimize them and try to cope with them.

a. Learn to relax:
There are various Buddhist techniques to relax us physically and mentally. Tranquility (samatha) meditation using the inout breathing (anapanasati) method is useful. This can be done anywhere and at any time ?in the office, in the coffee shop, in the MRT train and so on. Just a few minutes of anapanasati are refreshing. The Lord Buddha Gotama remarked. "This intent concentration on in-and-out breathing, if cultivated and developed, is something peaceful and excellent, something perfect in itself and a pleasant way of living also?(Samyutta Nikaya V-321).

b. Guarding the thought-process (citta-vitthi)
All too often, without being conscious about it, there is always those chattering and talking in our mind. Those selftalks are our internal verbalizations. They do not seem to stop and they affect our feeling and our mood. Those engaged in negative thinking (self-talks) tend to be more easily anxious or depressed. This has to be overcome and countered. It takes time and effort to dispute those negative thinking. Nonetheless they need to be minimized for the sake of our mental well-being. In the Majjihma Nikaya (I-119), the Lord Buddha Gotama advised, "One who does these things (control the thoughts) is called master of the pathways of thought. The thought he wants to think, he thinks; the thought he does not want to think, he does not think. He has cut off craving, removed the fetters, mastered pride and put an end to suffering".
c. Living a healthy lifestyle:
Eating well-balanced meals and regular exercises has been known to enable the body to cope better with stress. Remember that moderating our food intake means the eventual eradication of one of the 5 Hindrances (nivarana) i.e. sloth and torpor (thinna-middha).

d. Confidence in the Triple Gems (the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha):
Stress situations can come about with the number of life changes that we undergo. If they are within our control - try to minimize them. On the other hand many stress situations appear suddenly that impact us. Confidence in the Triple Gems often helps to cushion our stagger. Once again the Lord Buddha Gotama admonished, "If you take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, no fear or trembling will ever arise" (Samyutta Nikaya I-220).

c. Live for the present:
The past are but memories, the future are sense of expectations and speculations. The present is important. It is here and now. Develop positive and wholesome thoughts. Seek the advice and counseling of members of families; friends; those more experienced. Think of those in worse situations ?the destitute; the hungry; the abandoned; the sick; the dying. The present will eventually be the past. With confidence (saddha) and effort (viriya) the stress situation can be overcome. Continue with living because your life is precious. The Dhammapada (182/315) mentions "Rare is birth as a human being. Hard is the life of mortals. Do not let slip this opportunity".

Stress situations are events that unsettle us. They knock us about and sometimes we fall. But possessing the ability to cope they need not be fatal. Being resilient to them and with determination, it is within our mental and physical capacities to recognize them and seek solutions to cope with them. [Jeffrey Po]

Facebook Comment