Have you heard of the 4D technique to manage stress and anxiety?

It is important to be able to differentiate between stress and anxiety. Stress is mostly due to a specific reason but anxiety is more out of imaginary and futuristic thoughts.

By Dr Himani Khanna

Have we ever wondered where this word stress has originated from, and what is that feeling? In these times of pandemic, balancing work from home with parenting duties, we often get to hear these words ‘stress’, ‘anxiety’, and now, to add to the vocabulary, there is ‘fear’. Stress originated from a Latin word ‘strictis’ meaning tightness. These dynamic mental and cognitive states can affect our physical body, causing disruption of homeostasis, hence it is important to learn techniques to combat stress.

Stress can be ‘eustress’ means good stress, which motivates us to achieve our goals and ‘distress’, which is unhealthy, it disturbs our biorhythm and affects our mental and physical health.

It is important to be able to differentiate between stress and anxiety. Stress is mostly due to a specific reason but anxiety is more out of imaginary and futuristic thoughts. Stress can be managed by various techniques but anxiety may need pharmacotherapy. Stress is short-term and can lead to sleep disturbances, poor attention and concentration, and if left untreated, can lead to anxiety which has physical manifestations like palpitations, sweating, loss of appetite and sleep disorders which, if persist for long, can also lead to feeling of worthlessness and suicidal ideation.

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To prevent the state of stress and anxiety — which is secondary to our fears — we can follow a simple 4D technique and teach or children to manage stress as well, at a young age. The first D is deep breathing (de-stress). Whenever a negative though strikes our mind, we can take a few deep breaths to acknowledge than disregard the thought. This can prevent us from going into a stressful and anxious state. Second D is drink a glass of water. This will break the cycle of negative thoughts by diverting your attention, and it will give you few seconds to reflect and respond in a more appropriate way. The third D is delay. Just tell your mind that you are getting these unpleasant thoughts, especially if you are in the middle of doing a task. Tell yourself that you will finish the work at hand, and then think of these matters a little later. Delay your troublesome thoughts. Tell yourself each day: “my mind follows my commands and I am very well in control of myself and my thoughts”. Revising this statement multiple times a day will also help you to delay the negative thoughts. Practice these habits with your kids so that they learn to resort to these techniques under stress.

Last but not the least, the fourth D is distract. Learn to distract yourself into doing something that makes you happy or is interesting. Distracting from the overwhelming information from the news channels and conversations can be helpful, to keep you more focused and happy. When children are faced with anxiety during these times, this will be a helpful trick to distract them with talks of happier times.

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Follow these 4D techniques and keep stress and anxiety at a bay, and help yourself and your family to live a mentally healthy lifestyle. Not to forget that we have full control of our minds; let us not lose that control. Let us make a community of mentally and physically healthy individuals, including children.

(The writer is the Developmental Pediatrician & Co-Founder of Continua Kids)

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