Self-Control and Stress

Adults, and children, face different types of problems and levels of anxiety. This ‘worrying’ is termed as stress, which can be beneficial in the short term but detrimental to one’s health and sanity in the longer term. Overcoming short-term stress makes a person stronger while battling with long-term stress can exhaust the mind and body.

Stress stems from numerous factors ranging from sociological (peer pressure), or emotional (familial matters), or mental (learning disabilities). Stress, therefore, becomes invasive as it takes over our entire mind and body functions and renders us at its mercy. When not controlled, it plays havoc with our health, leading to heart problems, high blood pressure, and depression.

There is no person on this earth who does not have stress, though the levels and intensity may vary- a child feels stress due to competitiveness in school, a teenage due to peer pressure, a homemaker due to emotional upheavals, an executive due to work pressures, and so on. Frustration is another element of anxiety and it, therefore, becomes imperative to control this stress.

Controlling stress is akin to self-control, as often it has to be done by the person himself. Though external help can be taken in the form of group meditation, counselling, or medication, the individual himself/herself plays the lead role. Exercising self-control over own thoughts, actions and words is one of the best ways to control stress.

Stress is not taboo and can be managed. However, an important aspect to control stress is to self-recognise that there is stress and to identify the stress triggers. For example, Rita would be stressed every time her mother-in-law came to visit. This stress became complex as it would lead to high blood pressure and ill health. Once the cause of the anxiety (i.e., the domineering presence of the mother-in-law) was identified and accepted, Rita learnt to manage her stress by exercising self-control over her actions and words. Even though her mind would have varying thoughts, she applied self-control on her outward behaviour.

Some individuals are highly strung, that is, their personalities are such. It becomes difficult for them to live life in a casual happy-go lucky manner. They are constantly worrying about something or the other. Such individuals need to apply self-control on these emotions but also resort to other techniques such as meditation and self-discipline as a form of self-control. They should constantly use self-assertion in a positive manner to bring themselves out of depressive thoughts.

Another example of self-control and stress is the interaction between a parent and child. Every time the child rebels, the parent gets frustrated and stressed about the child’s misbehaviour. Being stressed does not help the parent or child and the entire situation becomes highly tensed. An option here for the parents is to practice self-control on their thoughts and actions, and to calm down. Once composed, the parent finds that the stress has reduced and it is easier to manage the child.

As stress is something that we cannot eradicate completely, the importance lies in managing or controlling this stress. Here enters the concept of self-control whereby each individual must identify his/her own causes of the stress and cope with it in the best manner. There are several techniques to overcome stress, with self-control being one of them. Even within self-control, there are different methods that can be opted for, namely, meditation, solitude, self – counselling and self-affirmation.

It should be clear that there is a corollary to the situation explained above. Not only does self-control help manage stress, but this self-control can also lead to stress. Exercising too much of self-control on oneself can have an adverse reaction as too much control over anything is harmful

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