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How to manage stress
Date Posted: 12/Mar/2019
Silas, 50, owns an events centre and works virtually throughout the day every week. He collapsed one day and was rushed to the hospital. He said the doctor diagnosed him of stress and told him to get enough rest and take proper care of himself.
 
His daughter, Ruth, said Silas hardly eats well or sleeps even when he complains of fatigue, body pains, headache or dizziness.
 
“He refuses to retire and seem to want to handle every situation even when others are there to do that. The worst part is that he doesn’t go to the hospital when he is stressed. He simply says it is minor stress and takes a pain reliever. It was when he fainted and we rushed him to the hospital, that the doctor explained to him that no stress is minor. He advised dad to reduce his work load or get enough helping hands and to ensure he rests well and avoids severe health complications as he is getting old and doesn’t have enough energy to handle everything ,”Ruth explained.
 
According to Dr Ijeawele Osia, a psychologist, stress is the inability to cope with a perceived threat (real or imagined) to one’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, and that results in a series of physiological responses and adaptations. He said examples of stress include financial, marital, work-and health-related stress.
 
“We all have our ways of coping with change, so the causes of stress can be different for each person as we have good and bad stress,” she said.
 
She explained that stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat.
 
“When you sense danger, whether it’s real or imagined, the body’s defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”
 
“The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life, giving you extra strength to defend yourself – for example, spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident. Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching television. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your quality of life.
 
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength,” Dr Osia explained.
 
The psychologist said the causes of stress are linked to different things, from physical (such as fear of something dangerous) to emotional (such as worry over your family or job.) Identifying what may be causing you stress is often the first step in learning how to better deal or manage stress.
 
She said the most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on a person. “You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.”The expert said the symptoms of stress range from cognitive , emotional , physical and behavioural.
 
Cognitive symptoms:
 
•Memory problems
 
•nability to concentrate
 
•Poor judgment
 
•Seeing only the negative
 
•Anxious or racing thoughts
 
•Constant worrying
 
Emotional symptoms:
 
•Depression or general
 
unhappiness
 
•Anxiety and agitation
 
•Moodiness, irritability, or
 
anger
 
•Feeling overwhelmed
 
•Loneliness and isolation
 
•Other mental or
 
emotional health problems
 
Physical symptoms:
 
•Aches and pains
 
•Diarrhoea or
 
constipation
 
•Nausea, dizziness
 
•Chest pain, rapid heart rate
 
•Loss of sex drive
 
•Frequent colds or flu
 
Behavioural symptoms:
 
•Eating more or less
 
•Sleeping too much or too
 
little
 
•Withdrawing from others
 
•Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
 
•Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
 
•Nervous habits (like nail biting, pacing)
 
Dr Osia said all health conditions are not related nor caused by stress, adding that people should contact a medical doctor or psychologist and other mental health professional when they notice they have the symptoms mentioned above.
 
She advised that in addition to treatment from experts, people should do the following to manage stress:
 
•Keep a positive attitude.
 
•Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
 
•Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
 
•Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga or tai-chi for stress management.
 
•Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
 
•Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
 
•Learn to manage your time more effectively.
 
•Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life.
 
•Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation.
 
•Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
 
•Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviours to reduce stress.
 
•Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you enjoy.
 
•Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained for stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.

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