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Breathe out STRESS

"Positive therapy is a package that combines eastern techniques based on yoga and western ones based on cognitive behaviour."



Yoga helps a lot.

Live in the present, lead a simple life, enjoy what you do, accept responsibility with a smile, face problems boldly, laugh a lot, do breathing and other relaxation exercises, cultivate good friendships, do some introspection, show consideration for others, make a change in lifestyle — these are some points that experts suggest to counter stress in modern life. An oft-repeated message is — do not run away from stress; it will only worsen the situation. Learn to overcome it.

This was the topic of discussion at a three-day national seminar on `Stress in modern living', organised at St. Teresa's College, Kochi, recently. It was sponsored by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Hypertension

"The emphasis was on managing and alleviating stress in modern life since it has become the root cause of hypertension, heart attack, diabetes, etc. The fact that women fall easy prey to stress has to be taken note of.

This is because most of them have to perform dual roles. The age group of people falling victim to stress-related ailments has been coming down alarmingly over the years," said K.S. Kumari, head of the Home Science Department of the college.

This is the second in a series of national seminars being hosted by the department; the first was on obesity.

According to Arun Kishore, psychiatrist at the Thrissur Medical College, stress becomes a major factor only when one has either too little or too much of it.

"The more socially active a person is, lesser will be his stress level," he said.

Positive therapy

"Practising deep breathing, relaxation training, and auto suggestion are some ways to overcome stress," said Hemalatha Natesan, head of the Psychology department, Avinashalingam University, Coimbatore. She has evolved a package for stress management — positive therapy.

Stress affects both physical and mental health and leads to psychosomatic disorders such as migraine, backache, heart ailments, hypertension, diabetes, and asthma.

It also leads to psychological disorders such as acute stress disorders, depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorders. Positive therapy is a package that combines eastern techniques based on yoga and western ones based on cognitive behaviour therapy. This had been put to use in different States in the country, she said.

"The perception of a situation or a person as a problem has much to do with our perception. A person with negative perception will also have negative thoughts. Negative thoughts lead to negative belief, which is most often irrational, paving the way for negative emotions. In the long run, this affects a person's mental and physical health."

The focus of the therapy is on the present, on enjoying it. Many waste their time and energy, brooding over the past or worrying about the future.

"Positive therapy helps replace debilitating negative thoughts with positive, self-enhancing one. It is presumed that changes in thoughts will automatically lead to a change in behaviour. It will help develop courage, confidence, cheerfulness and optimism," Ms. Natesan said.

Strategies

There are four major strategies in positive therapy — relaxation of mind and body, counselling, exercises and behavioural assignments.

Once a person is in a relaxed mood, he should visualise inhaling good health, positive thoughts, success and strength, and breathe out whatever is undesirable. Auto suggestion, (saying for instance, "I am healthy and bold") also helps.

Importance is also given to assertiveness training and laughter/smile therapy. After all, a smile livens up the face and adds to personality. It also enhances mental strength.

John L. Paul

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