Election campaign stress can be a killer, warn experts

November 18th, 2008 - 1:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Puran Chand Yogi died of suspected suicide here Sunday, his close aides speculatedit could be because of his stressful life. Their fears are not unfounded as experts warn that the hectic schedule of politicians at election time can indeed be a killer.

“My father was stressed and depressed due to the election campaign since the past few days. Although we were sure he would win a fourth time around, he was still very tense,” Yogi’s son Rajiv said.

Police said 73-year-old Yogi, who was seeking re-election from his Rajinder Nagar constituency in the Nov 29 Delhi assembly polls, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his house in west Delhi.

Early mornings and late nights, lack of stress busting exercises, high levels of anxiety and 17-18 hours of campaigning - experts say that leading the life of a politician, especially before the elections, is like burning a candle at both ends.

Take Chaudhary Prem Singh of the Congress’ schedule for instance.

The 75-year-old politician has created a world record by winning 10 consecutive elections from the same constituency and the same party. The pressure to keep up his record in the Delhi assembly polls is, therefore, quite obvious.

“This time I will create another record - of winning by a maximum majority of votes,” Singh told IANS.

And his schedule?

“I start my day at 4 a.m. I go for my prayers and then start meeting the party workers and campaign till late at night. I sleep only by midnight,” Singh said.

According to counsellor Praveen Thapar, a hectic schedule makes one forget his or her limitations and this can take serious toll on one’s health - with drastic results at times.

“Stress can be a killer. It makes you forget your potential and pressurizes you to go on even when your body and mind have reached their limitations,” Thapar, chairperson of the Sanjivini Society for Mental Health, told IANS.

“In the case of politicians, they lead a very hectic life, especially during elections. They have high goals to reach, and in the process make their minds and bodies undergo high levels of stress,” she said.

Harsharan Singh Balli, a three-time BJP legislator, has serious health problems. Despite this, he doesn’t have a fixed time for meals, is hardly careful about what he eats and doesn’t exercise.

“I have blood pressure and blood sugar problem which gives rise to other health complications. Yet, I don’t have any fixed time for my meals. I can’t afford to be choosy about my food all the time.

“Campaigning before the elections is a busy time and therefore my day starts at 5 a.m. and I go to bed not before 12.30 a.m.,” 60-year-old Balli said.

Similarly, 58-year-old BJP legislator Sahab Singh Chauhan said his day starts at 6 a.m. and doesn’t end until 2 a.m.

“There is so much to be done - campaigning, meeting with party workers and networking. I don’t have the time to do any yoga, meditation or any exercise. Even visiting the temple is a rarity. For me, people’s prayers act like my shield,” Chauhan said.

“However, I do have certain restrictions. Like I don’t have sweet tea, cold water or cold fruits. And if I need to rejuvenate, I simply talk to my kids,” he added.

According to Thapar, a supportive family that is not overtly ambitious is a fall back system that is very necessary to survive in today’s high stress world.

“Eating together or going to places of worship are all ways to relax oneself. A family’s support is also very important.

“Every individual has his own threshold level and to say that an aged person will collapse to stress faster than a younger one would not be entirely true. Having said that, with age, your ambitions grow and your body - not so much the mind - needs more rest. An imbalance there and things can get out of hand,” Thapar said.

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