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THE NEED FOR EFFECTIVE STRESS MANAGEMENT IN TODAY’S NIGERIA

There is no doubt that anyone living in Nigeria today would be undergoing one type of stress or another. The economic situation across the globe and the dire conditions in Nigeria in particular which has induced a crushing hardship on the people have resulted in physical and psychological stress in most of the population. The situation has exacerbated the rate of bereavement, suicides, multi dimensional poverty, sicknesses, infertility, divorce and separation among other frustrating experiences. It therefore becomes necessary for everyone to learn about stress(which has become the commonest disease among Nigerians) possible preventive measures and how to manage or cope with the prevailing stressful situations in the country .

The World Health Organization defines stress as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to various degrees.
According to UNICEF, Stress is the body’s response to physical, mental or emotional pressure.Stress causes chemical changes in the body that can raise blood pressure,heart rate and blood sugar levels.It may also lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety,anger or depression.Other authorities believe that stress can only be sensibly defined as a perceptual phenomenon arising from comparison between the demand on a person and his or her ability to cope.
Generally speaking, stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone and the human body is designed to experience it.Stress can lead to physical symptoms which include- Aches and pains, Chest pain or a feeling lik a racing heart,or panting, exhaustion or trouble sleeping, headaches, dizziness or shaking, high blood pressure, muscle tension or jaw clenching, stomach or digestive problems, trouble having sex and weak immune system.Stress can also lead to emotional and mental symptoms like: anxiety or irritability, depression, panic attacks and sadness.Often, people with stress try to manage it with unhealthy behavious like:
Drinking too much alcohol or too often indulgence,
Over eating or developing an eating disorder,
Participating compulsively in sex, shopping or internet browsing,
Smoking,
Using drugs etc.

There are different conditions that can induce stress especially the present hardship and the inability of the people to meet up with their daily needs.Unfortunately Stress cannot be diagnosed,it is subjective and cannot be measured with any test kit.Only the person experiencing it knows and how severe it feels.

Enormous stress can manifest in a variety of emotional, behavioural and even physical symptoms which vary among different individuals. Such as
Sleeping disturbances or changes in sleeping habits (insomnia or sleeping to much).
Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders
Muscle aches,
Headache, gastrointestinal problems and
Fatigue.
Emotional and behavioural symptoms include;
Nervousness, anxiety, changes in eating habits including overeating or under eating (leading to weight gain or loss), loss of enthusiasm or energy and mood changes like irritability and depression. It is also known that people under stress have a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviours, such as excessive use or abuse of alcohol and drugs, cigarette smoking and making poor exercises and nutritional choices, than their less-stressed counterparts. These unhealthy behaviours can further increase the severity of symptoms related to stress, often leading to a “vicious cycle” of symptoms and unhealthy behavious.

Stress can be managed by engaging in relaxation activities- such as deep breathing, Physical exercises and muscle relaxation.
Taking good care of one’s body each day. Eating right,getting enough sleep.
Staying positive and practicing gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of life.
Accepting that you can’t control everything.
Stay connected with people who keep you calm, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things.Seek assistance from people where necessary.No matter how difficult things are people should try to at least laugh three or four times a day to lossen the tension of stress which is healthier than any medication.

Stress has no distinct medical diagnosis and there is no specific treatment for it but people can avoid stress by developing the coping mechanism and avoid conditions that can induce stress.
How seriously one handles stress makes a big difference in how one feels.We should Accept that there are events that we cannot control and be positive about life.Again people should
be assertive instead of aggressive with the present situation of things as we expect better conditions.

By Awumonye Nwaneri/INI.

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