Some Stress Releasing Techniques- A Critical Analysis
Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal
Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal
There has been a death in my family recently. The wife of the deceased was non-reactive to the news of the death. An old lady said, “Make her cry otherwise her mind will be affected.” She was given slaps and told about the death and the consequences of the death. Her two young children were kept in her lap and she was told the impact of the death on the children and their lives. The woman suddenly came to her senses and started crying profusely. Later the relatives from all over came in groups and cried in unison making the wife of the deceased cry. The old ladies told the tales of the good deeds of the man and cried thereafter ensuring that the lady cries with them. The Rudali system existed then which was an effective tool to make the affected ladies cry. The relative sat on spread durries in the veranda and spoke about the deceased with the other relatives. These were some of the means to relieve stress. Stress is an emotional, physical or mental tension that results from something that’s outside of us.
I also remembered how cruel the deceased used to be quite often, especially in the days when he was without a job during Corona days. There was not much left at home to eat, but he demanded food. Unable to get he used to beat his wife. Stressed from the lack of a job, he took out his anger at his wife. I also saw her beating his children which she never did earlier. It was a sequence; he beat his wife and his wife beat her children. To me, this was a way of relieving untold stress caused by the pandemic. This has been a practice in many poor families to beat their near ones to relieve stress. They themselves never realized this but carried on with this sequence. She was also reminded of these past events to make her cry further.
This is how the rural folk reduce stress. Stress is an emotional, physical or mental tension that results from something that’s outside of us. Some stressful life events include moving to a new place, changing roles at school or work, relationship issues or losing a family member. Stress can cause sleep difficulties, including insomnia, by making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This impacts the quality of rest. Stress can also upset the balance between sleep and wakefulness.
Being stressed is associated with poor sleep in general, and may trigger more frequent dreams. So it is not uncommon to experience a distressing dream prior to a big event like a job interview, taking an exam, or an important appointment.
I have been with the deceased person during his treatment in the hospital for quite some time aiding and caring for him. Every time my relatives asked me to have a good sleep at night. I have been keeping silent most of the time. Being aged and experienced I did not feel that I was affected by the event. But the dreams I got were really disturbing. Once the patient died, there were various rituals that kept me busy in the performance of these. However, the series of dreams never ended. These dreams were primarily of deaths, burials, and crying relatives. It kept me worried as to why I had such dreams regularly and wanted to analyze these.
What are these dreams for, I thought? I found out that these dreams are a way for our brains to process stress and emotionally charged memories. This is one of the most well studied, commonly held theories about dreaming—that our brains employ dreams to work through emotionally difficult and stressful experiences, to reduce their psychological load and make them less disruptive to daily functioning.
Clearly, most of us are coping with unusual levels of stress right now, and our brains are using dreams to process it. As unwelcome as nightmares and disturbing dreams feel, they may be a sign of the brain doing some essential, important work to ease the intensity and emotional charge of our currently heavy daily load of stress and worry. And our nightmares can also serve the purpose of alerting us to anxieties we haven’t yet become aware of, or given name to.
The people in the “epicenter” of the coronavirus pandemic include health care workers and other first responders, people who are sick or who are close to someone who is sick. There are also millions of people who have been laid off from jobs, and people who are facing economic crises that place them in an economic “epicenter.”
But it’s important to note that you don’t need to be at any of these “epicenters” of the crisis to experience trauma, sleeplessness, anxiety, and nightmares from the effects of the pandemic. Trauma and its fallout on sleep and dreams are in no way exclusive to first responders or the sick and their families. We are living through unprecedented, frightening times, with a future outlook that is deeply uncertain. That is a universal and potentially traumatic reality right now.
Dream research has shown that some memories from daily life show up in dreams immediately, that same night. This immediate transfer of memories into dreams is known as “day residue.” Other memories from waking experiences are subject to what scientists refer to as a “dream lag.” That’s a delay, typically of about 7 days, between a memory being created in the waking day and it shows up in a dream.
Dealing with these unsavory dreams needs some study which I did, the applied methods found, and recovered from these dreams.
Being stressed is associated with poor sleep in general, and may trigger more frequent dreams. So it’s not uncommon to experience a distressing dream prior to a big event like a job interview, taking an exam or an important appointment.
And although there’s limited research about controlling the content of dreams, anxiety dreams can generally be a result of increased stress during our day-to-day lives. Daily stress can also increase the frequency of these dreams.
I tried to learn to better manage stress in my life and was able to decrease anxiety-ridden dreams and improve my sleep. The simple strategies I adopted to help my mind and body relax before turning in for the night were as under.
I kept busy in the evening writing my stories till I felt tired. I played a game of Ludo with my life partner and saw one or two good serials till I yawned and went to sleep. It took not more than an hour to do this. I got in between sleep for going to the toilet and got up sharp at five to listen to religious hymns. After the daily course, I went for a morning walk. While returning, I sat with a group of old friends and had gossips. This recuperated me for the day and relieved me from the bad dreams.
I thought of my bedroom as a place just for sleep, love, and pleasant activities thereby limiting the time for worrying in bed or being anxious. If this did not work out sometimes I had a walk-in my corridor enjoying the sweet breeze and thinking of the nature around and returned only when I felt sleepy. I did some breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation movements also. This relaxation technique helped me in the restoration of my proper sleep and relieved me of bad dreams. These techniques turned out to be some of the most critical aspects of stress management which I used close to bedtime or sometimes even during the day.
However, this was not always so. Generally, my sleep was disturbed either around 1 or 3 AM. Some nightmare or stress dream would cause me to wake up or I kept lying there overthinking my finances and anything which I had to do the next day. I stopped watching the clock as I found counting the minutes heightened my distress. I turned my alarm clock off and removed the headphone from my telephone. I took my pen and penned some song, story, or some past experience. I then typed on the computer; pit on wifi and sent these to my favorite publishers. To be frank my most lovely poems are written in these early hours. Having written something worthwhile, sleep came quickly and I slept till my better half came with bed tea.
You can have different ways to settle out these problems but remember that this problem on disturbed sleep can be well handled by some positive techniques.