Wednesday, 18 July 2012 00:00

SUCCESSFULLY COPYING WITH STRESS

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A few days ago, Jacob Wabuyi rose with the lark. He said a prayer and embarked on his journey, hoping to make it in time for his 9 o’clock Job interview at Housing Finance bank nearKololo Airstrip. Ill fatedly however, Jacob got caught up in an early morning traffic jam at Kubiri, just a stone’s throw away from Wandegeya. At length, Jacob arrived at Housing Finance but he had missed the interview. The ordeal left a depressing damper on Jacob’s spirits. Being prone to low feelings and depression from stressful experiences like Jacob’s is common place but the effects of stress on somebody, Doctor Andrew Bunoti, a Mbale based Stress Psychotherapist notes are dependent in part on his or her inherited strengths, weaknesses and physical condition.

A person with a troubled personality for example, Bunoti  explains is more susceptible to stress disorders than say a person with strength of character and a happy go lucky personality. “When stress is properly controlled, it helps one handle life’s everyday challenges, but when it is not subdued, it may cause one emotional and physical problems,” notes Bisikwa Khalayi, a Counsellor at Mukhuwa community counseling center, Mbale. Bisikwa says feeling good about yourself, balancing work and relaxation and developing self improvement skills will help you meet the demands of daily living.

Strong emotions, nervous anticipations, Tension headaches, stomach pains, infertility, excess urination, fits of depression, indigestion, physical exertion, sleeplessness, unusual heart poundings, etc are all stress responses which prepare our bodies for action.
Bunoti says stress responses are the body’s ways of dealing with the mental and physical demands of life.

The lack of a positive approach in dealing with stressful situations means many people get inundated and easily give in to self destructive practices like taking drugs and alcohol. According to the health website ehealthmd.com, alcohol and drugs only mask the symptoms of stress without really dealing with the root cause of the problems. Bunoti notes that when an individual undergoes stress, the mind and personality of that person are affected. “Our minds give in to depression and often we develop irritable personalities.” According to psychologists writing on the American Psychological association website, www.apa.org/, low feelings caused by stress can easily degenerate into chronic depression; a condition they say can lead one to neglect good diet and activity habits.
They point out that this eventually puts one at a greater risk of heart disease, obesity and Kidney dysfunction.  Without a positive attitude in handling stress, Bunoti contends, we lay ourselves open to stress related illnesses and like in Jacob’s case, a damper in self esteem.

Physician Musana Wilbrod of Bumboi health center, Mbale says prolonged stress breaks down the body’s inborn immune defensive system against disease. Musana says when a person sleeps hungry and angry for example, the stomach muscles tighten and become nauseated. As a result, a person develops an open sore in the stomach usually refered to as a peptic Ulcer. The irregular churning action in the stomach can eventually lead to psychosomatic disorder. Other Psychosomatic disorders that are caused and aggravated by stress include Migraine headaches, lower back pains, and irritable bowel syndrome

HOW STRESS AFFECTS THE BODY AND MIND

When we undergo stress, the body’s natural system of balance is disrupted. Responses are triggered within the body during stress like an increase in the heart beat, respiration and sugar supply going to muscles, Bunoti notes the body eventually tries to adapt to stress and restore its natural balance However when a stressful situation becomes overwhelming, exhaustion sets in and the body and mind become susceptible to Illness.

BODY ORGANS AND CONDITIONS CAUSED BY AND MADE WORSE BY STRESS

BODY ORGAN OR SYSTEM

EFFECTS OF STRESS

Cardiovascular System

Hypertension, Heart attacks and other heart diseases

Respiratory System

Increased breathing, asthma, colds, sinusitis, etc

Reproductive System

Infertility, lack of reproductive drive

Excretory system

Excess urination,

Urinary bladder infections

Digestive System

Irritable bowel syndrome, increased or decreased appetite, indigestion, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, spastic colon, peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers

Skin

Goosebumps, flushing, excess sweating, increased oil secretion that aggravates acne, hives and other allergic skin reactions

Nose

Swelling of mucous membranes

Heart

Irregular heart rhythms, blood pressure increase

Damage to your arteries
higher cholesterol levels
a weakened immune system.

Throat

Choking sensations caused by muscle tightening and swelling of mucous membranes

Stress should however, not always be viewed as negative, as sometimes it acts as much needed motivation in what we do. The right amount of stress can motivate one to be alert, energetic focused and can also test one’s adaptability and flexibility, according to researchers writing on the Cleveland medical center Website, Clevelandclinic.org

The point out that Positive cycles of stress, provide the challenges we need in life, to improve physically, mentally and emotionally.

New Stress research also shows that positive physical stress such as working out daily and jogging goes a long way in helping people cope with stress.
Bunoti says people with a good social support system {family and friends} enjoy better health and generally live longer stress free lives.


Positive stress reducing lifestyle habits such as, regular exercise, balancing work and relaxation, adopting a positive attitude, getting enough sleep, not skipping meals and establishing regular meal times, carrying out tasks good humouredly, showing tolerance, warmth and friendliness and love to others, could just be your saving grace in stemming the tide of a daily stress.

SOME BASIC SIGNS OF EFFECTIVE STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STRESS WARNING SIGNS

Successful Coping With Stress

Warning Signs that you are not Coping well

-Ability to adapt to changes
-Ability to Work under authority, rules, limits, problems
-Ability to carry out tasks efficiently
-Ability to show warmth, friendliness, love
Self direction
-Sense of humor and fulfillment
-Tolerance of others and frustration

-Inability to concentrate
-Inability to slow down and relax
-Strong anger over minor irritations
-Feeling that things often go wrong
-Frequent prolonged feelings of boredom
-Frequent unexplained fatigue
-Sleep problems
-Psychosomatic symptoms
-Reliance on alcohol, tobacco or drugs for relaxation

Behavior strategies to Reduce Stress

· Learn to manage your time properly

· Plan activities before you begin them

· When you have many things to do at once, set priorities. Decide which tasks or activities are most important and tackle those activities first

· Get regular exercise

· Make relaxation a Priority.

· Adopt a positive attitude

· Establish regular meal times and don’t skip meals

· Avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco and Drugs

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