Dealing with stress

Dr Maxwell Adeyemi -
Dr Maxwell Adeyemi -


As we continue to endure the burden of covid19, our stress levels are at an all-time high. This, in addition to other everyday sources of stress, is causing many people to struggle to cope. Stress is the non-specific response by the body to any demand for change. Stress could be positive (eustress), or negative (distress).

Physiological stress is response to a stressor such as an environmental condition. In response to a stressful event, the body responds by sympathetic nervous system activation which results in the fight-or-flight response. Because the body cannot keep this state for long periods of time, the parasympathetic system returns the body’s physiological conditions to normal (homeostasis). This is why it is common that people go in and out of stressful conditions.

In humans, stress typically describes a negative condition or a positive condition that can have an impact on a person’s mental and physical well-being. It is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you, around you and many things that you do yourself can put stress on your body.

Stress in humans results from interactions between people and their environment that are perceived as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being. The element of perception indicates that human stress responses reflect differences in personality, as well as differences in physical strength or general health

RisksFor stress-related illnesses, risks include a mix of personal, interpersonal, and social variables. These factors include lack or loss of control over one’s physical environment, and lack or loss of social support networks.

People who are dependent on others (for example children or the elderly) or who are socially disadvantaged because of race, gender, educational level, or similar factors are at greater risk of developing stress-related illnesses. Other risk factors include feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, extreme fear or anger, and cynicism, distrust of others and betrayal.

SymptomsThe symptoms of stress can be either physical or psychological.

Stress-related physical illnesses, such as irritable bowel syndrome, heart attacks, arthritis, and chronic headaches, result from long-term overstimulation of a part of the nervous system that regulates the heart rate, blood pressure, and digestive system.

Stress-related emotional illness results from inadequate or inappropriate responses to major changes in one’s life situation, such as marriage, completing one’s education, becoming a parent, losing a job, or retirement.

In the workplace, stress-related illness often takes the form of burnout – a loss of interest in or ability to perform one’s job due to long-term high stress levels.

Effects of stress

The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger.

Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.

Stress that continues without relief can lead to distress. Physical symptoms include headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.

Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve it. Unfortunately, instead of returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.

Causes of stress

Feeling stressed is a fact of life for most people, but it affects everyone differently. What causes stress for you may not be stressful for someone else. That’s because how you view a situation affects how much stress it causes you. Ask yourself these questions to find out what is causing your stress:What job, family, or personal stress do you have?

1. Stress can be caused by an ongoing personal situation such as problems in your family or with a relationship; caring for a family member who is elderly, has chronic health problems, or is disabled.

2. Your job can be a source of stress if you have difficult bosses or coworkers.

3. Dealing with a family member who is under stress.

4. Major life changes such as getting married, moving to a new city, or losing a job can all be stressful. You can’t always control these things, but you can control how you respond to them. Your body feels stress-related wear and tear in two ways – the stress itself, and the unhealthy ways you respond to it.

How to deal with stress

-Engage in stress releasing activities like meditation,getting enough sleep, getting a massage, swimming, exercising regularly. These activities trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that block stress. You can also try reading a good book, picking up a new hobby.

-Set a shutting-down time and stick to it.

-Cut out caffeine drinks, and tobacco use.

-Live a healthy balanced life, eat right, exercise and get enough sleep.

-Spend some time outdoors in calm natural environment.

-Take time out, and be with friends and family that make you happy. Smiling with loved ones, relaxes the muscle around your facial area, which helps to release tension.

-Talk about things that are bothering you with a trusted friend. You can also write them down.

-Think nice things about yourself. This gives you the assurance that all will be well.

-Seek professional help with a trained counsellor, psychologist or mental health officer if you need to.

Contact Dr Maxwell on 363-1807 or 757-5411.


"Dealing with stress"

More in this section