Ways of coping with stressful situations
The ongoing fuel crisis in major cities in the country has stretched the mental and emotional limits of many Nigerians is an understatement. What do you say to a taxi driver who has spent over eight hours queuing for 40 litres of fuel?
In the last two weeks, Nigerians have spent precious time that should have been expended on productive activities looking for petrol. Let us remember that they also queue for fuel in very uncomfortable surroundings. It is usually under the scorching sun.
Indeed, many of us are caving in to the stress these days. But as easy as it sounds, stress has serious consequences not just on our work, relationship and family life but also on our health.
Body rejuvenation expert and surgeon, Dr. Sandra Adejumo, says stress reduces the body’s immune system and predisposes the individual to various illnesses.
According to her, studies have shown a direct link between stress and health conditions such as headaches, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other types of infections acquired because of a weak immune system.
Adejumo says, “Chronic stress takes its toll in part on our body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even ability to avoid injury. When you are stressed out, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you are more likely to have an accident.
“Under stress, your sleep will suffer. You will not also digest your food as well, just as the genetic material in the cells of your body may alter in a bad way. Mentally, you are not only become more irritable, depressed, and anxious, your memory will also become worse, resulting in your making poor decisions. It can also lead to your becoming isolated, lonely, and depressed.”
Family physician, Dr. Adeola Mohammed, notes that increased stress levels predispose individuals to heart attacks, cardiac arrest and other cardiovascular diseases.
Mohammed adds, “What we are saying is that not managing stress can cut short your life because you are more likely to suffer heart problems than those that manage their stress levels.”
Taking time out to rest is necessary, especially if you love yourself and want to stick around longer.
Here are some efficient and simple strategies you can adopt to manage any stressful situation you are presently experiencing
Sleep:Everything breaks down when you do not sleep well. Any sleep disturbance will diminish mental performance. Stress affects sleep and vice versa. Researchers at the Pennsylvania StateUniversity College of Medicine compared patients with insomnia to those without sleep disruptions and found that the insomniac with the most severe sleep disturbances secreted the highest amount of cortisol.
Avoid stimulants and sugar
Here is the catch: The more stressed you get, the more you crave coffee and doughnuts, pizza and soft drinks. But the more coffee, coke, doughnuts, and pizza in your system, the more stressed you get. It is not your imagination.
Simplify and prioritise
Cut your to-do list in half. How? Ask yourself this question after every item: Will I die tomorrow if this does not get accomplished? I am guessing you will get a lot of no’s.
Let us say you have five huge work projects due next week, what do you do? You record all the tasks on a sheet of paper or on your computer and you give each one a number between one and five. Then you sort it out one after the other.
Collaborate and cooperate
There are many people out there with to-do lists that look very similar to yours. Why not let them do some of your tasks.
Laugh and exercise
Just as chronic stress can damage organic systems in our body, humour can heal. Physical activity is also important. Exercise relieves stress in several ways. First, cardiovascular workouts stimulate brain chemicals that foster growth of nerve cells. Second, exercise increases the activity of serotonin and/or norepinephrine. Third, a raised heart rate releases endorphins and a hormone known as ANP, which reduces pain, induces euphoria, and helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety.
Stop juggling and build boundaries.
Some multi-tasking is inevitable in our rushed culture. But do we really have to simultaneously cook dinner, talk to mum, help with homework, and check e-mail? If you were an excellent waiter in your past or present, then skip this one.
Speaking of activities, get some boundaries, ASAP, meaning designate a place and time for things so that your brain does not have to wear so many hats at the same time.
Avoid negative people.
Once the negativity is out there, it is up to you to tell your brain not to dwell on it. Well, if you are like me, that cognitive exchange demands a lot of energy. Choose your friends carefully and avoid the toxic conversations as much as you can.
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