Coping with stress
With Kemi Olatunde
It is not uncommon to see people getting stressed up. Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension which can come from any thought or event which in turn makes you nervous or frustrated. It is that feeling you have when you are trying to cope with demands relating to work, finances and relationship among others.
It is important to know that how we react to a difficult situation will affect how stress affects us and our health.
In some cases, stress is good as it helps you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best.
We all react differently to stressful situations, what is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another and almost anything can cause stress. Do you know that just thinking about something can cause stress for some people?
According to Deputy Director, Medical Services, Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Board, Dr. Tolu. Ademujimi, stress is the biological response of the body to different situations. Human beings undergo different degree of stress which can be acute or chronic.
He noted that when human beings are stressed, two major hormones; cortical and adrenaline are released.
Speaking on stress types as mentioned earlier, he stated that acute stress occurs over a short period of time saying “and the body returns to normal, while chronic stress happens repeatedly over a long period” adding that there can be many consequences which are left behind.
Ademujimi listed three major causes including; job/work which are highly demanding, financial stress and relationship stress noting that fatigue, headache, insomnia, loss of appetite, poor concentration and loss of sexual desire are some of the signs and symptoms of stress.
Complications of chronic stress according to him include High Blood Pressure, high blood sugar, reduced immunity, insomnia, obesity, loss of libido, heart diseases and changes in skin colour.
Speaking further, he said, “ management of chronic stress involves managing the identified causes. For instance, if it is due to job stress, you have to reduce the number of work hour, take time to rest or have a break from work.
“You may also need to visit a psychologist for possible Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), also some people recommend regular exercise.”
According to www.helpguide.org, the most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you that’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.
Inability to concentrate
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Depression or general unhappiness
Anxiety and agitation
Moodiness, irritability, or anger
Loneliness and isolation
Some of life’s most common sources of stress include:
Stress at work
While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and performance, impact your physical and emotional health, and affect your relationships and home life. It can even determine the difference between success and failure on the job.
Job loss and unemployment stress
Losing a job is one of life’s most stressful experiences. It’s normal to feel angry, hurt, or depressed, grieve for all that you’ve lost, or feel anxious about what the future holds. Job loss and unemployment involves a lot of change all at once, which can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem.
Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include:
Your support network. A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, life’s pressures don’t seem as overwhelming.
Your sense of control. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your life—that you’re at the mercy of your environment and circumstances—stress is more likely to knock you off course.
Your attitude and outlook. The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If you’re generally hopeful and optimistic, you’ll be less vulnerable.
Your ability to deal with your emotions. Having the ability to identify and deal appropriately with your emotions can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity.
Your knowledge and preparation. The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope.
Improving your ability to handle stress
Get moving. Upping your activity level is one tactic you can employ right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move).
Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you’re feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who improve your mood and don’t let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you don’t have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
Engage your senses. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your senses sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
Learn to relax. You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the polar opposite of the stress response.
Eat a healthy diet. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress, while a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs .
Other lifestyle choices according to www.medicalnewstoday.com include;
Reducing intake of alcohol, drugs, and caffeine: These substances will not help prevent stress, and they can make it worse. They should be cut out or reduced.
Acknowledging the signs: A person can be so anxious about the problem that is causing the stress that they do not notice the effects on their body.
Noticing symptoms is the first step to taking action. People who experience work stress due to long hours may need to “take a step back.” It may be time to review their own working practice or to talk to a supervisor about reducing the load.
Find your own destressor: Most people have something that helps them relax, such as reading a book, going for a walk, listening to music, or spending time with a friend or a pet. Joining a choir or a gym helps some people.
If the stress is affecting your daily life, you should seek professional help. A doctor or psychiatric specialist can often help.