I was discussing with a friend the other day and he sadly complained of the bad state of things in his life. Looking at him, you will know he’s going through immense pressures in his life. Tiredly, he said to me “I am stressed up, there are lots of unsettled issues in my life”. He went further to explain that he was hoping and praying for escape route from the stress he’s into. I looked at him, I knew he cannot live a positive life that way, what comes to my mind was STRESS! What is Stress?
By ANYA OKAFOR ANN
According to Richard Lazarus; Stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.
Stress is a feeling of strain and pressure; (pressure that can come from finance, work, relationships, illhealth, unemployment, social isolation and others). It is body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical , mental and emotional responses.
Though, most of the time, stress is primarily a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This causes a number of reactions from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down unnecessary body functions such as digestion and the rest.
Stress, especially in an environment like Nigeria is always associated with negative, but naturally speaking, ‘Stress is a normal part of life’, small amount of it may be desired, beneficial and even healthy. It keeps you alert, motivates you to some helpful actions and makes you ready to avoid danger.
It becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges, when the stress level rises and the time, resources, or knowledge to handle the situation is not available. We experience stress when we feel “out of control”.
Some symptoms of stress include:
– Frequent headaches
– Tightness in stomach
– Feeling of anxiety or panic
– Irritability / anger
– Frequent heartburn, stomach pain, or nausea
– Excessive sleeping or insomnia / sleeping disturbances
– Persistent difficulty concentrating
– Social withdrawal or isolation
– Constant fatigue
– Weight loss
– Feeling overwhelmed
Stress has hazardous effect on our body, health, mood, thoughts, feelings, behaviour and general well being making it difficult for us to live a positive life.
- It makes you feel tired and exhausted: constant stress can cause your brain to limit the amount of cortisol it sends into your bloodstream, which can make you feel tired and weak most of the time. Anxiety wreaks havoc on your immune system, which can make eczema act up or cause other skin infections
- It makes you gain weight: For some people, stress makes them to eat more as their body battles to coup with the pressure they are going through thereby making them obese.
- Making bad decisions: It is hard to think clearly when you’re under stress. Your blood pressure and heart rate rise and your survival instincts kick in – all of which interfere with decision making. You cannot live a positive life when things are done the wrong way which includes decision making.
- Health problems: Stress if left unchecked, can cause major health problems such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, weakened immune system, rapid breathing, low libido, fertility problems, depression and even death.
Stress cannot be eliminated as thus, it can only be managed. Being able to recognize stress symptoms can help you in managing them.
The process of stress management is one of the keys to a happy, successful and positive life in modern society. It provides ways to manage anxiety and maintain overall well-being.
- Calm your self down: One of the best ways to manage stress, especially if you are tensed up, is to calm yourself down. You can practice simple acts like breathing-in and breathing-out. Try to relax your nerves, this will in turn make your muscles to relax and thus coordinate your system to return back to normal. Hold back yourself from acting rashly. For example, if you receive annoying phone call or email and you notice that you’re irritated, you can hold off on replying until you’ve calmed down.
- Indulge in physical activity/Exercise: exercise has a way of going deed into your body and reducing your tension. Try going to the Gym or doing some in-door exercises. Also, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and massage can still help.
- Socialize: mingle with people that has nice sense of humour. Smile as often as you can, it can help in keeping you happy and as thus, combat your stress.
- Live healthy, positive life: one of the ways of managing stress is to eat healthy and balanced diet. Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol intake; and use of other illicit substances.
- Master your act: be at your best in what you do especially at workplace. Be a professional, learn the needed skills so as not to make unnecessary mistakes that will put you into intense pressures.
- Have dominium over your life: do not allow people to live your life for you. Be in control of your life and situation.This includes taking charge of what you do with your time, using it judiciously and prioritizing your activities while not forgetting to attend to yourself(creating time for yourself). Define whom you are and abide by your principles.This will make you be at peace with your inner self and reduce stress.
- Start a mindfulness routine: sometimes, if feels impossible to stay focused at work. Mindfulness can help. Studies have shown that people who have a mindfulness routine are less distractible and better at concentrating. They control their attention, thereby reducing their stress level.
- Seek help: If stress continues despite measures you put in place to control it, please seek help. See a doctor, professional counselor or therapist who can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.