Stress can be defined as a normal physical response to event that makes you feel threatened, or upset your balance. Stress can also be described as a condition or event that poses threat or challenge to our well-being.
Stress is beneficial to our well- being. Let’s take an instance, when you sense danger. The body’s defence kicks into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as fight-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. Stress can be helpful as well as harmful. It can deteriorate our health, cause damage to our attitude, productivity, relationship and quality of our life.
Causes of stress
Stress can be caused by:
• Work issues
• Family conflicts
• Failing health
• Emotional problems
• Being out of job
• Environmental factors such as overcrowding of an area, crime, pollution etc.
• Post-traumatic stress: stress caused by a life threating event, like death of a loved one, rape, natural disorder etc.
Effects of stress:
• A fast heartbeat
• Loss of memory
• Poor judgement
• Constant worrying
• Abnormal heart beat (arrhythmia)
• Low fertility
• High blood pressure
• Heart diseases such as heart attack and heart failure
It is disturbing that heart disease is prevailing in Africa. This has been linked to the high rate of poverty and unconducive environment thereby causing stress.
We cannot totally avoid stress but we can and must manage it to our possible best.
In managing stress, we have the four A’s method:
A: Avoid the stressor
A: Alter the stressor
A: Adapt to the stressor
A: Accept the stressor
Avoid the stressor:
Learn to say no: this means that you should know your limits and stick to them in your personal or professional life. Refuse to accept added responsibilities.
Avoid people who stress you out. If you can’t avoid them, limit the amount of time you spend with them.
Alter the stressor:
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, then try and alter it, like in a case where you have someone or something bothering you, try and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feeling, resentment will build causing more stress.
Adapt to the stressor:
If you can’t change the stress, then change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Accept the stressor:
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, serious illness etc., so we must learn to accept it and move on.
Ways to relieve stress:
• Eat healthy diets
• Reduce caffeine and sugar
• Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
• Exercise regularly
• Stop worrying
• Get enough sleep
• Good time management (Poor time management can cause stress)