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Stress

Stress seems to be a norm in Nigeria and probably the world at large. If you haven’t ever been stressed you are most likely not on earth. (No, honestly. Some people deal with traffic, some with light issues and water scarcity. Is it the stress of securing fuel or the stress that comes with the...

Stress seems to be a norm in Nigeria and probably the world at large. If you haven’t ever been stressed you are most likely not on earth. (No, honestly. Some people deal with traffic, some with light issues and water scarcity. Is it the stress of securing fuel or the stress that comes with the rise in the cost of goods and services? Or the mother that has a set of 2 year old triplets? Some students have unrealistic deadlines to meet from some unearthly lecturers; doctors working around the clock for a very bad case; and most unfortunately, the loss of a loved one. Basically, be you rich, middle class or poor, something stresses you. Honestly, stress is inevitable.)

Sometimes, stress can be positive. Research shows that a moderate level of stress makes us perform better. It also makes us more alert and can help us perform better in situations such as job interviews or public speaking. Stressful situations can also be exhilarating. Some people actually thrive on the excitement that comes with dangerous sports or other high-risk activities.

However, stress is only healthy if it is short-lived. Excessive or prolonged stress can lead to illness and physical and emotional exhaustion. Taken to extremes, stress can be a killer.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Physical changes: When you are stressed, your body produces more of the ‘fight or flight’ chemicals which prepares it for an emergency. Adrenaline and nor-adrenaline raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate and metabolism rate. They also reduce blood flow to your skin and reduce your stomach activity. Cortisol releases fat and sugar into your system (but also reduces the efficiency of your immune system). All these changes are our body’s way of making it easier for you to attack or flee from danger.

Unfortunately, these changes are less helpful if you are stuck in a busy office or on an overcrowded bus. You can’t fight or run away. As a result, you can’t use up the chemicals your body has produced to protect you. Over time these chemicals and the changes they cause may seriously damage your health. You may start to experience headaches, nausea and indigestion. Your breathing patterns and perspiration rate may also change. Long term effects include migraines, heart attacks and strokes.

Emotional changes: When you are stressed, you may experience one or more negative feelings such as anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, depression etc. These feelings may feed on each other and produce physical symptoms which will make you feel even worse. High level of stress can cause giddiness, heart palpitations, headaches or stomach disorders etc. Many of these symptoms may make you feel so unwell that you then worry that you have some serious physical conditions such as heart disease or cancer –which may cause even more stress.

Behavioral changes: People behave differently when stressed. The most common behavioral change is withdrawal from friends and family, indecisiveness or inflexibility. Other changes are sleep disorders and irritability. There may be also be a change in your libido and sexual habits. Individuals also tend to be more verbally or physically aggressive under stress.

How do people handle stress?

People try to relieve stress in different ways. Some people take to drinking, smoking or substance abuse (these are all harmful ways of relieving stress and we do not recommend them). Others go partying or hangout with their friends. Some take to exercising, singing, watching movies, meditation, travelling, counseling. These are healthier and encouraged ways of dealing with stress. All you have to do is learn to relax; identify the stressor; and make lifestyle changes.

If you are feeling stressed, take to one of these proposed methods and relieve your stress. YOLO? So why stress?

To know more about stress and how to best deal with, please reach out to us at contact@mentallyaware.org.

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