Stress simply means the response of the body to changes in life or the reaction of the body to the demands of life. Because life involves constant change, there may be no possible way to avoid stress. Stress is like a vector, force or direction. Major life changes are not limited to the following;

Routine changes like commuting from home to work

Life changes as a result of marriage, divorce, or the death of a loved one

Loss of a job

Increase in financial obligations

Moving into a new house

Chronic illness or injury

Emotional problems (such as depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem, etc.)

How to Cater for an elderly or sick family member: Traumatic events such as natural disasters, theft, rape, or violence against you or a loved one, etc.

The Significance of Stress: Everyone experiences stress at different times and to engulf in a little stress is not a problem. High levels of stress is risky to human health in terms of quantity, intensity and duration.

Stress affects emotional equilibrium and physical health.

Stress narrows your ability to think clearly and enjoy life.

Stress can be controlled and managed. Get this right; you are not helpless even with so much that needs attention -the outstanding bills, family responsibilities, community demands, spiritual demands, etc.

Causes of Stress

It is a known fact that life is full of stress and as long as the sun rises and sets and we have day and night. Stress possibly comes from many sources. A situation may be perceived as being “stressful” by one person and “challenging” by another. The perception depends on life experiences, personality traits, available resources, habitual thought patterns, support system and depth of Christian faith.

Symptoms of Stress: Emotional symptoms include:

Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody.

Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or the need to take control.

Having difficulty to relax and put your mind at rest.

A bad feeling about yourself (low self-esteem), loneliness, being worthless, and depression.

Avoiding others.

Physical symptoms include:

Low energy

Headaches

Stomach upset such as diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea

Aches, pains, and tense muscles

Chest pain and rapid heartbeat

Insomnia

Frequent colds and infections

Loss of sexual desire and/or ability

Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands

Cognitive symptoms include:

Constant worry

Racing thoughts

Forgetfulness and disorganisation

Inability to focus

Poor judgment

Behavioural symptoms include:

Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities

Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes

Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Effects of Stress

The effect of stress may be experienced within a short period or may come with long-term dominance on the body system. The long-term effect of stress may not be limited to the following (according to the World Health Organisation): cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke. Obesity and other eating disorders.

Menstrual problems: Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women. Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, and permanent hair loss. Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcer active colitis, and irritable colon.

Stress Management

Given the beneficial nature of mild stress, the goal of stress management is not to eliminate stress. Rather, stress management techniques are designed to keep stress within an optimal range. Encouraging healthy lifestyles and behaviours helps reduce stress and maximise the likelihood of living a long and healthy life. The goals are for you to be happier, healthier, and more productive.

A balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun.

Ability to face challenges and withstand pressure.

Stress management is not one-size-fits-all.

Find out what works best for you.

Maintain eight hours of labour, eight hours of recreation, and eight hours of rest.

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress. It is likely too easy to overlook how one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours could contribute to everyday stress levels. Stress is an event plus a response. Work deadlines plus procrastination cause stress rather than the actual job demands.

Look carefully, and closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

Do you see stress as a temporary feeling (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even when you cannot remember the last time you took a breather?

Do you define stress as an integral part of work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?

Do you blame the feeling of stress you have on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Practical Ways of Stress Management

When deciding which option to choose in any given scenario, it is helpful to think of these and make an effort to:

Avoid: Learn to say “no”: Distinguish between the “should” and the “musts”.

Avoid people who stress you out: Limit the amount of time you spend with someone who stresses you or end the relationship. Take control of your environment: If the evening news makes you anxious, turn on the TV/Radio/WhatsApp/Instagram/Telegram/Facebook/YouTube or other social media platforms. Put down your to-do list: Write down the things you want to do the next day.

Alter: Express your feelings instead of bottling them up: Always voice out your feelings rather than bottling the mop, if you fail to speak up, resentment will build up and stress will increase. Be willing to compromise: This is a deliberate decision to bend for at least a little while; it should be a win-win approach. Create a balanced schedule: Always remember that all work and no play is a recipe for burnout.

Adapt: If you cannot change what stresses you, then, change yourself or change your responses to it.

Reframe problems: Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.

Look at the big picture: Will it matter in a month, a year or a decade? Think before jumping into action. Irrespective of the outcome; be positive about the outcome of your standard always. First-class performance may not happen always. Practice gratitude: Ensure a grateful heart. Have a gratitude list, and count your blessings. What you call stress, to someone else, is a prayer point. So, be grateful.

Accept: Some sources of stress are not avoidable; some may be the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national or global recession. Do not try to control the uncontrollable: Focus on the things you can control or the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside: Look at them as opportunities for personal growth. Learn from your mistakes.

The ‘S’ of Stress Management: According to Abib Olamitoye,”Strategy is better than Energy”. When you take cognizance of your body operations and your environment, you will discover and observe appropriate strategies in management. ” is the commonest letter in STRESS, so let’s consider letter B for strategies management.

Strengthen your muscles

Sing

Smile and laugh

Seek help

Selective eating

Search the archives

Sleep adequately

Scripting or journaling

Solitude and meditation

Stop

Conclusion

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining stress, your stress level will remain outside your control. The problem comes for you to seek appropriate change or changes. Find time to rest. Do not hasten your death before the appointed time. Eternity is eternal. You do not need to be in haste to get to eternity. Your earthly preparation is a prerequisite if your eternity will be sure.