STRESS – THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
STRESS– THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
In my line of work, I have seen many people who come to the hospital complaining of all sorts of symptoms and despite all medications, their symptoms persist.
The culprit of their conditions in most cases is stress.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is how our body responds to extra demands placed on it. Those demands are sometimes called STRESSORS. Stress is also a phenomenon that is common to everybody. Stress is not totally avoidable. This is so because you cannot control some factors and events that occur and that may lead to stress on the body or mind.
STRESSOR can be positive or negative. Stress can sometimes be good for the body if present for a short period of time but can become an issue when it is present in the body for a long time resulting in what we call chronic stress. When a person can effectively cope with the stress in the body, then it is good, but problem occurs when a person loses the ability to cope with stress, this may lead to several health conditions in the body.
CAUSES OF STRESS
stress can be caused by the following :
1. Positive Stress
2. Negative Stress
1. POSITIVE STRESS
Birth of a child
Promotion at work
Going to college, etc.
2. NEGATIVE STRESS
Death of loved ones
Traumatic life events etc.
3. EXTERNAL CAUSES
Everything mentioned under positive and negative stress are external stressors
4. INTERNAL CAUSES
Fear of the future.
THE PERCEPTION OF STRESS
Stress is greatly affected by our attitude and viewpoint towards it. These are based on our beliefs, values, how we are conditioned and a lot of times, assumptions. When we view stress as deadly it automatically becomes so but when we have a liberal view about it, the outcome becomes a lot better.
The mental picture we paint of any stressful event determines the response of the body to the stressor. This is depicted by two individuals being exposed to the same stressful conditions but having different outcomes. While one who is rigid, anxious, and afraid manifests the symptoms of stress, the other who is optimistic and flexible towards life has a better outcome.
PERSONALITY TRAITS AND STRESS (www. Livescience.com)
Five main factors that add up to make each individual’s personality are;
These are major determinants of how a person turns out. Here is what they mean.
Being open to new experiences, they are curious people and they want new things.
Being organized and with a strong sense of duty. Dependable and disciplined. They are planners.
Social butterfly, chatty and cheerful, assertive too. Introversion means someone who needs plenty of alone time, they prefer being alone.
This measures how warm and kind a person is. The more agreeable a person is, the more likely they are to be trusting, helpful and compassionate. Disagreeable people are cold and suspicious of others.
People who are neurotic worry over everything, obsess over every little detail. Anxiety and depression are common to people who are high in neuroticism.
A person who has a high level of openness and mildly conscientious, extroverted and aggreeable with little or no neuroticism will appraise a situation better than another individual introverted, not agreeable, very conscientious and highly neurotic. Therefore, personality traits play a big role in our perception of stress. The good news is that we have the ability to tweak our personality traits to favor us. Therefore, we can decide who we want to be and build the traits relevant to that.
SYMPTONS OF STRESS ON THE BODY (www.apa.org)
Prolonged stress or chronic stress has its effects on every part of the body. When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. This is a reflex reaction to stress and the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. When stress passes, the tension in the muscle is released and the body is back to its normal state but with chronic stress, the muscles in the body are always in the state of guardedness, alert state. This can lead to reactions which promotes stress-related disorders.
Below are some of the symptoms of stress: –
Muscle aches, tension headaches, rapid heartbeat, abdominal upset, frequent cold, infections, chest pain, drug and alcohol use, fatigue. Diabetes, obesity, irritability, frequent anger outbursts, high blood pressure etc.
Stress also affects the male reproductive system. When a man is constantly stressed, it can affect the testosterone production, sperm production and maturation and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Stress may also reduce sexual desire in women.
HOW TO MANAGE STRESS
The following techniques are targeted at resting the mind and the body. They should be done regularly to prevent chronic stress building up in the body.
*** Ventilate your mind: – Talk to a clergy, a professional counsellor etc. Christians believe in talking to God in prayers even though He is invisible. That also works. Just find a way of emptying your mind of all worries and things that may be causing you stress.
*** Do something you enjoy: – get a hobby that helps you to unwind and relax e.g. singing, dancing, reading, swimming and shopping. I just go shopping when I am stressed out. Take a vacation too. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one but somewhere different from your normal environment may help to de-stress you.
*** Meditation: – Yoga has been found to be helpful by some people who do it. There are other things that people do asides Yoga which makes use of the principle of meditation.
*** Write about your feelings especially about stressful events and how they affect you. This is also a way to relieve your mind.
*** Adequate Sleep which includes sleeping for a minimum of 6-8hours daily.
*** Regular exercises e. g Walking, jogging and dancing can work at relieving stress.
*** Healthy Diet which includes moderate food portions, food with less caffeine, alcohol and stimulants
*** Guided Imagery has been found to be effective in stress relief. It entails making use of the mind and imagination to place oneself in a perfect place of choice. You can imagine yourself sunning away in the Bahamas. This method relieves stress.
*** Practice the art of gratitude. Grateful people are optimistic people. Optimism reduces stress.
Stress happens to everybody and it differs in magnitude but regardless of the magnitude of stress, our individual perception of it determines how it affects our body system. Meanwhile, stress can affect every part of the body especially when it is prolonged. The moment it is prolonged, it means the individual may not be able to cope with it anymore, therefore leading to several disorders in the body.
There are ways of managing stress and reducing its effects in the body. Learning to manage time and healthy lifestyles are major ways of minimizing stress on the body.
Most importantly, we are all faced with the daunting task of changing our perception of stress by altering any personality traits that disallows us to have a more liberal view of life happenings and events.