Stress management is the amelioration of stress, especially chronic stress often for the purpose of improving everyday functioning.
What is Stress?
Stress is a mental, emotional or physical strain caused by a variety of factors e.g anxiety or overwork. It is also a feeling of emotional or physical tension.
Stress produces numerous symptoms which vary according to persons, situations and society. These can include decline in physical health as well as depression.
Walter cannon and Hans Selye 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, then extrapolated from these studies to human beings.
Subsequent studies of stress in human by Richard Rache and others established the view that stress is caused by distinct, measurable life stressors and expressed further that these life stressors can be ranked by the median degree of stress they produce. Thus stress was traditionally conceptualized 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.
· 70% of visits to Doctors are stress related
· 80% of serious illness are due to stress
· Over 40% of workers describe their jobs as very stressful
· Millions of working days are lost yearly as a result of stress
Those at Risk:
· Workers e.g. nurses, bankers etc.
· Young adults
· Working mothers
· Workers in big cities
· Less-educated people
· Widows, Divorcees
· Isolated/ Homeless individuals
Causes of stress:
The causes of stress are referred to as stressors and some of them are enumerated below:
Symptoms & Signs:
Some of the symptoms and signs of stress are:
· Sleep difficulties
· Poor appetite and weight loss
· Poor concentration/ Headaches
· Frequent aches and pains
· Stiff jaw or neck
· Weight loss
· Missed deadlines
· Anger tantrums
· Anti-social behaviors
· Alcohol or drug abuse
· Nervous habits
· Increased BP
· Stomach upset
· Cerebrovascular accidents
· Diabetes etc.
Techniques of Stress Management:
High demand levels loads the person with extra effort and work. It is then high time a new time schedule is worked up. Until the higher-than normal demand has completed, the normal frequency and duration of the normal personal joys and normal interpersonal fulfillment that time usually allows to be diverted must be politely curtailed or blocked but many techniques cope with the stresses life brings. Some of the following ways induce a lower than usual stress level, temporarily, to compensate the biological issues involved; others face the stressor at a higher level of abstraction.
Techniques of stress management vary according to philosophical paradigm but we will examine the following:
· Autogenic training
· Cognitive resolution
· Conflict resolution
· Getting a hobby
· Deep breathing
· Reading novels
· Relaxation techniques
· Artistic expression
· Fractional relaxation
· Progressive relaxation
· Clinically validated alternative treatment
· Listening to certain types of relaxing music, particularly;
– New age music
– Classical music
– Psychedelic music (Highlife)
– Sleep music.
Levels of stress can be measured. One way is through the use of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to rate stressful life events. 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.
Inspite of the enormous weight and the hazards of stress, the following measures of management can be proffered:
· Sleep/ rest
· Improved diets (balanced) promote natural/ B vitamins (taking of fruits). Avoid fried/ fast foods.
· Reduce toxin intake (tobacco/alcohol)
· Exercise regularly
· Don’t try controlling uncontrollable things
· Share worries
· Take vacations/ leave
· Encourage social habits
· Promote humor/ good laughs
· Be part of promoting a just course
· Treatment of unpleasant conditions
Irrespective of the kind of STRESS, one or all of the following steps can be taken prevent it:
· Remove the stressors
· Reduce the stressors
· Remove yourself from stressful conditions
· Pay regular visits to your Physician (Doctor)
· Take enough rest
· Be content
Stress is known to be an ugly monster that gives men away to more potent monsters like Hypertension, High blood pressure, stroke and the final- DEATH. Nevertheless, Stress Management has psychological and immune benefits, effects and positive outcomes are observed using a combination of non-drug interventions like treatment of anger or hostility or talking therapy i.e good interpersonal relationship with people around you. Remember, life is in phases and men are in sizes. Never bite more than you can chew. STAY STRESS-FREE.
*Grace ‘Tolu Dogara works at the Education Unit, National Museum, Minna.