I wish to start this topic by expressing my gratitude for the singular honour of being tasked to package this lecture on a topic that has become part of man’s problem since his creation. This is because every man has at different times in different ways experienced different patterns by which stress destabilizes an individual. Specifically, stress cannot be tagged as a problem if it is well managed and tamed. This is because when experienced, the individual affected is naturally endowed with the option to benefit from it or suffer as a result of his inability to understand the intricacies of this phenomenon.
2.From the above, this presentation is aimed at identifying stress and its impact on our activities. SCOPE
3. The presentation will cover the following areas:
(i)What is Stress?
(ii)Causes of Stress?
a. External Stressors, and
b. Internal Stressors.
(iii)Mechanism of Stress
(iv)Symptoms of Stress
(v)Common Complications of Stress
(vi)Stress at Workplace
(vii)Managing stress at workplace
(viii)Stress Management, and
WHAT IS STRESS?
4.Stress therefore in part according to Webster Dictionary, can be defined as a force that tends to distort the body or a factor that induces bodily (physical) or mental tension and may be a factor in the causing of a disease or stress could be seen as the normal component of the body’s response to demands made upon by our environments, and relationship and are perceptions and interpretations of those demands. At the same time, the other side of stress does not generally mean that stress is always associated with diseases but as an alarm system to make us prepare ourselves in an event of danger as to whether to flee or stay back and fight. These two sides of the coin of stress bring us to assess different types of stress based on their causes and some of the possible symptoms. CAUSES OF STRESS:
5.According to Dr. Selye, the causes of stress, equally referred to as stressors or triggers, are of two kinds – external and internal. A. External stressors are the physical environment that directly act on us, e.g., noise, bright light, etc, negative outcome from our social interaction with people of different characters, – e.g., rude or aggressive people, organizational rules that create bottlenecks, major life events like death of close relations or even promotion, daily uncontrolled events like mechanical breakdown or loss of valuable items, etc. His concept of external stressors include, lifestyle which may mean an unorganized lifestyle, lack of confidence in ones self, getting to extreme on issues, including always coming to achieve the best results.
B. Internal Stressors
6Equally important are internal stressors carefully itemized as follows: a. Lifestyle choices – addiction, planning more than necessary b. Negative self-talk – having doubts generally, critically reviewing every issue c. Mind traps – unrealistic expectations, exaggerating, rigid thinking d. Stressful personality traits – perfectionist, workaholic, desire to please others always. 7.A review of both external and internal stressors convinces one to conclude that we actually generate most of the stressors. Recognising this fact is one of the first steps to deal with them. MECHANISM OF STRESS:
8.In all, these stressors act in a way to effect changes in the body by increasing production of some substances which are intended for protection – often called the fight or flight response. In this process, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure are observed for effective functioning of essential organs, faster breathing comes up with massive oxygen supply, tension of muscles in preparation for fight or flight, increased mental alertness and sensitivity of organs to assess situations and quick action, a re-adjustment of blood flow comes up, with some to where they are needed most and less to where they are not very much required.
Fats, blood sugar and cholesterol are increased for extra-energy, while platelets and blood clothing factors are equally put in place to prevent bleeding. 9.A careful review of the process explained above confirms that the effect of stressors on the body is wholesome, thus a prolonged action generated by any stressor equally instigates wholesome damaging effect on the systems that constitute our body. In this wise, systems like the cardio-vascular, nervous, the respiratory, musculor-skeletal, etc, as well as most important tissues, like connectives, all fall victim in the process. This is why the symptom associated with stress manifests as a result of the submission of our systems to it. SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
10.As earlier explained that the effect of stress on the body is wholesome, this equally explains the numerous and varied forms of the symptoms of stress. For purposes of clarity these symptoms are divided into four major categories. However, these categories may not necessarily capture all the symptoms. The four major groups are: (i) Physical:– Some of these are fatigue, headache, Imsomnia, muscle aches, heart palpitations, chest pain, abdominal cramps, trembling, flushing or sweating, etc. (ii) Mental:– This manifests as memory loss and instability, indecisiveness, mind racing, confusion, loss of sense of humour, etc. (iii) Emotional:– It Manifests as anxiety, nervousness, depression, anger, frustration, worry, fear, irritability, impatience, aggressiveness, etc and (iv) Behavioral:– This involves pacing, fidgeting, addiction, crying, sweating, failure to accept blame, etc. 11.STRESS AT THE WORKPLACE
Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of a job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury. Some common causes of stress at the workplace include;
a. Job demands:
Unrealistic or unclear expectations
Too much to do or too little time to complete assignments
Lack of challenge or job burn-out
Lack of input on how you do your job
Difficulty juggling work and family responsibilities
Role uncertainty or role conflict
Responsibility for others
b. Environmental conditions: unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution or ergonomic problems. c. Career concerns
Performance evaluation and promotions
Salary cuts and Lay-offs
Lack of opportunity for growth
Financial cutbacks and re0rganizations
Unprepared change in job responsibility or classification
d. Relationship with supervisor or co-workers
Design of tasks: long hours of work, heavy workload, infrequent rest-breaks, shift work, hectic and routine tasks, Little or no sense of control, repetitive non-skilled tasks Lack of family-friendly policies
Poor communication or conflicts among staff
Inadequate support from supervisor
Favouritism, differential treatment or insensitivity
Lack of motivation
Workplace violence and isolation
12.MANAGING STRESS AT THE WORKPLACE
a. IMMEDIATE: quick and easy stress relievers include
Breathing: continuous, deep, slow and easy breathing is very effective. Take a deep breath through the nose, let your abdomen and chest fill with air, and then slowly exhale through the mouth. Repeat a few times. Talk: find someone with whom you can talk about your problems Laugh: laugh at a humorous movie or joke with friends
Relax: isolation, meditation, yoga, muscle squeeze etc.
Meditate: is a form of guided thought that can take many forms … deep
breathing, stretching Get enough sleep
Limit alcohol and caffeine
Help a friend: be busy so that you take your mind off your troubles Take timeout: free of interruptions to relax
Exercise: not only helps you to deal with the immediate stress, it can also help your body be better prepared for future stress. Yoga: taking a yoga class can be relaxing
Do something creative: write poem, draw a picture, write a story or play instrument Feeding: when we give our body the right nutrients it is better able to deal with stress. Take plenty of water
Manage your time wisely
Always listen to your body!
COMMON COMPLICATIONS OF STRESS
(i) Cardio-vascular diseases, e.g. Hypertension
(ii) Endocrine diseases, e.g. Diabetes
(iii) Gastrointestinal disease – eg. Peptic ulcer
(iv) Muscular-skeletal diseases – Muscular aches, trembling, etc. (v) Central nervous diseases – Anxiety, loss of memory and sense of humour, indecisiveness, frustration, anger, fear, aggressiveness, etc. STRESS MANAGEMENT
14.According to Philip W. Long MD, the basic management of stress is to master it. This enables you to understand those things which contribute to your problem and change them. Those required for change are behavioral, ways of thinking, life style and situational change. These, he believes, have both therapeutic and preventive effect. 15.In managing stress, the following guidelines are necessary, though they are more of preventive and to some extent therapeutic: (i) Avoid Unnecessary Stress.
a. Learn to say no. This is because you cannot handle everything, all alone. b. Avoid people who stress you out, especially those who hold contradictory views on simple clear issues. c. Take control of your environment. Identify awful seasonal events and habits. d. Avoid hot-button topics. Avoid extremists or chauvinists. e. Pare down your daily list. Be realistic in your expectations. ii.Alter Situations
a.Express your feelings instead of bottling them up.
b.Be willing to compromise – share your views with those with whom you can do that.
c.Be more assertive. Take decisions when necessary.
d.Time management. A well scheduled event and activity cannot overstretch you.
iii.Time Management Tips
a. Create a balanced schedule
b. Do not over-commit yourself
c. Prioritise tasks
d. Break projects into small steps
e. Delegate responsibility
iv.Accept The Things You Cannot Change
a.Do not try to control the uncontrollable
b.Look for the upside. See every obstacle as a lesson to learn from and victory after it. c.Share your feelings. Difficulties discussed with a trusted friend or professionals could reduce or alter a situation.
d.Learn to forgive – “for we are all frail creatures, to be the best is but fewest faults to have”. v.Adapt To The Stressor
Change yourself, if you cannot change the stressor.
a. Reframe problems. Always indentify the positive aspects of every event or situation. b. Look at the big picture. Have analytical mind for every event, where possible go for the alternative. c. Adjust your stand. Always know that “there is no golden path to greatness”. d. Focus on the positive. See life as a coin with two sides. Focus on the positive side when necessary. e. Adjust your attitude. Do not associate strongly with extremes of life. vi.Stress Reduction Tips
a. Set aside relaxation time
b. Connect with others – spending good time with others is a worthy investment. c. Do something you enjoy every day
d. Keep your sense of humour
vii.Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle
b.Eat a healthy diet – balanced
c.Reduce caffeine and sugar – adequate quantity enhances d.Relaxation and good sleep.
e.Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Deal with problems as they come, avoid masking yourself from issues at hand.
f.Sleep when it is necessary.
g.Form the habit of extensive reading.
viii.If you can start a stress journal which includes identifying: a. What caused your stress
b. How you feel, both physically and emotionally
c. How you acted in response and
d. What you did to cope or feel better, it is likely that you can plan to insulate yourself from the damaging effects of stress. It can also help you to evaluate your coping strategies without necessarily engaging in negative lifestyles like drug addiction, procrastination, withdrawal from people, etc. Conclusion
16.In conclusion, many have allowed stress to overwhelm them leading to suicide, severe chronic illness of the systems, especially heart diseases, mental illness, etc, thereby ending up in the mortuary or in secondary and tertiary health centers because, the aspect of management of stress highlighted above got to them too late to provide succor at the time of diagnosis or identification of the condition. For us, who have had the privilege of this discussion would benefit from the knowledge so far gained. 16.Thank you for your kind attention.
1. Webster’s New Encyclopedia Dictionary
2. Stress Management for Patients and Physician – By David Posen MD 3. Causes of Stress by Dr. Syleje MD