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Updated: December 10, 2012 17:16 IST

Be in control

Sumathi Sudhakar
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CHEER UP: Find your true potential and inner strength. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu
CHEER UP: Find your true potential and inner strength. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Try to enjoy the challenges thrown at you without getting stressed out.

Sneha’s flashpoint had hit a new low. She looked grim most of the time. She fumbled with her assignments and barely scraped through the model exams. She did not need much provocation to flare up. Flaring up meant screams, bad language and at least a tantrum, if not a row. Sneha was ‘stressed out’.

In these fast-paced times, all of us feel ‘stressed out.’ Plus Two students feel the pressure of stress through two years. College goers are not exempt either. “I thought I could relax at college,” laments Harminder. “But with short semesters and lots of subjects, lab, practicals, assignments, records and tests through the semester, pressure is intense.”

Don’t forget that most of our new colleges are out of the city. “I leave home at 6.30 am and return home by 6 pm,” says Priyanka. “I travel close to 70 km every day. When I return home, all I can do is sleep. Work piles up for the weekends. It is stressful.”

None of this is exaggeration. Most day scholars attending professional courses can identify with these pressures. Many young people are hassled and stressed out.

But they need not be. External conditions are not in your hands to change. You cannot do away with assignments or exams nor bring the college within 2 km of your house. But what you feel, think and do are still in your control. What you can do, is not allow your environment or its demands to overwhelm you.


Of course, this is not easy. The first step is to realise that your body and mind have infinite resources to deal with what you encounter. They are incredibly strong, robust, vibrant, flexible and elastic. You might have heard of fantastic stories of people who survived terrible disasters and diseases, of people living in horrible conditions and still smiling, of babies discovered alive under the debris of fallen buildings...

You must know that young children in some of our most backward villages do dozens of chores around the house before they go to school which might involve a walk or a train journey or bus travel of a few hours. And when they return home, they cannot relax but must rush to gather firewood or bring home the grazing cattle. This is not an attempt to trivialise the sufferings of half of the world’s population. Conditions arising out of inequality, discrimination and injustice cannot be condoned. But what you can learn from the struggle of millions of our brethren all over the world is that our body and spirit are indomitable.

What is stress?

Most often, stress arises from resentment — the feeling that you have been wronged, or that you deserved better or that something has been thrust on you. Stress is what you feel to be stress. It has to do with the way we lead our lives. Ever since the beginning of industrialisation, we have always associated progress with material comfort and ease. Every gadget has been invented just to make our lives more effortless. We have conditioned ourselves to believe that the slightest struggle is anathema. And we have paid a price for this. We have forgotten how to endure and overcome hardships, how to struggle and face challenges. Our body and mind still have the resilience and robustness to face life. But we have never plumbed its depth to know just how much we can take, how far we can travel.

Dealing with it

You may have observed on occasions that what was stressful to you did not affect some of your classmates, while some others buckled under it and were reduced to tears or threw tantrums. As every person has a different personality, temperament and cultural background, it is natural that everyone reacts differently to stressful conditions. There is naturally no one formula that can help everyone. Remember that perhaps not one of you knows your own true potential and inner strengths. There is enough scope for each of you in your own way to use some of that inner strength and vitality you never thought you had.

Your body and spirit can take all the assignments, records, tests, travel and other stressors you can think of. Life is incredibly tough and we are naturally equipped to deal with it. We just need to realise that we are a lot stronger than we think we are. Spend some time with yourself. Get to know yourself and keenly observe the world. Get a broader perspective of life and what it offers.

The world provides a platform and opportunities for you to realise and grow to your full potential in every sense. Empower yourself to make use of them. Enjoy the challenges life throws at you.

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