Dr Maxwell Adeyemi
Stress management is the amelioration of stress, especially chronic stress often for the purpose of improving everyday functioning.
Stress is a mental, emotional or physical strain caused by a variety of factors, for example anxiety or overwork. It is also a feeling of emotional or physical tension.
Stress produces numerous symptoms which vary from person to person, situations and society. These can include decline in physical health as well as depression.
Researchers and scientists in the past have used animal studies to establish the earliest scientific basis for the study of stress. They measured the physiological responses of animals to external pressures, such as heat and cold, prolonged restraint and surgical procedures, and extrapolated from these studies to human beings.
Many studies of stress in human has established the view that stress is caused by distinct, measurable life stressors that can be ranked by the median degree of stress they produce. Thus, stress was traditionally conceptualised to be a result of external stimuli beyond the control of those experiencing the stress. More recently, however, it has been argued that external circumstances do not have any intrinsic capacity to produce stress, but instead their effect is medicated by the individual’s perceptions, capacities and understanding.
Many statistics and studies have expressed the views that: About 70 per cent of visits to doctors are stress related, 80 per cent of serious illness are due to stress, over 40 per cent of workers describe their jobs as very stressful and millions of working days are lost yearly as a result of stress.
Though everyone is at risk of developing stress at various times and stages of life, some individuals are more prone to developing stress and being affected negatively by stress.
Signs and symptoms of stress
Sleep difficulties, poor appetite and weight loss, poor concentration, headaches, frequent aches and pains, stiff jaw or neck, anger tantrums, anti-social behaviours, alcohol or drug abuse, nervous habits, depression, increased blood pressure, stomach upset, and cerebrovascular accidents are all signs that someone could be stressed.
Stress management techniques
High work demand levels can burden a person with extra effort and work. In cases like these there are many techniques to cope with the stresses that life brings. Some of the following ways induce temporary lower-than-usual stress levels. Techniques of stress management vary according to philosophical paradigm but the following are often useful:
· Autogenic training – a relaxation technique that uses the power of the mind to relax the body.
· Cognitive resolution – how someone views the conflict situation
· Conflict resolution – finding a peaceful solution to a disagreement
· Getting a hobby
· Deep breathing
· Relaxation techniques
· Artistic expression
· Clinically validated alternative treatment such as massages and acupuncture
· Listening to relaxing music
· Levels of stress can be measured. One way is through the use of the Holmes and Rahe stress scale - a self assessment tool to measure stress levels.
· Changes in blood pressure and galvanic skin response can also be measured to test stress levels and changes in stress levels.
· A digital thermometer can be used to evaluate changes in skin temperature, which can indicate activation of the fight-or-fight response drawing blood away from the extremities.
In spite of the enormous weight and the hazards of stress, the following measures of management can be used:
· Getting sufficient sleep and rest
· Eating a balanced diet
· Reducing toxin intake
· Exercising regularly
· Trying not to control uncontrollable situations
· Sharing worries and discussing your stressful situation with a trusted person.
· Taking vacation leave and relaxing
· Encouraging social habits
· Promoting humour and good laughs
· Volunteering and getting involved in community work
Irrespective of the type of stress you may be experiencing, one or all of the following steps can be taken prevent it:
· Remove the stressors and eliminate the cause of your stress where possible.
· Reduce the stressors. Where this is not practical, attempt to reduce the stress.
· Remove yourself from stressful conditions.
· Pay regular visits to your physician or mental health professional.
· Get enough sleep and rest, which is critical in stress management.
· Contentment and acceptance of situations, practically and logically working through them with professional and spiritual help or guidance goes a long way in overcoming stressful situations.
Stress is known to be an ugly monster that gives men and women away to more potent monsters like hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, suicide and sometimes death. Stress management has psychological and immune benefits, and positive outcomes have been observed with the use of a combination of non-drug interventions.
Contact Dr Maxwell at 363-1807 or 757-5411.