You are stressed. You cannot work in Africa and not be stressed. It’s an extreme environment and I don’t think people realize that they can fight back, they can reverse the effects of stress on their lifestyles. You may not be clear what I mean when I talk about the effects. Try hypertension, try cancer, try stuff that pretty much kills you. Small wonder why the life expectancy of the average African is so low.
Stress in the workplace can have an enormous impact on your Physical, Emotional and Mental health. It’s important to note that the body cannot distinguish between one stress and another, stress is stress regardless of its origin.
Everybody suffers from stress in one way or another but how stress is perceived is a very subjective matter. For example someone who works with bears would be less stressed when confronted with a wild bear than someone who sees a bear for the first time.
Here are list of signs that indicate you are suffering from stress and ways to combat your everyday stress levels:
Let’s start with one for the men. If you suffer from heavy amounts of stress then it is not uncommon for your sex drive to go down. Stress after all is a response to a threat whether that is physical (being attacked), mental (worrying about financial security), emotional (relationship issues), Chemical (medical drugs), and Nutritional (toxic unnatural foods).
During stressful times the hormone Cortisol is released which increases energy supplies by elevating sugar in the blood but at the same time suppresses non-essential things like reproduction. When under threat getting an erection is the last thing the body is concerned about.
Discover your largest source of stress and deal with it. Here’s a true story about a stress that overtook my life. Some time back I started developing anxiety. As time went on the anxiety got worse to the point where I couldn’t function and at one stage couldn’t even leave the house. I tried everything to combat the anxiety from changing my diet, to exercising more, and even meditation.
Nothing worked until I addressed the thing I had feared the most, the relationship I had with a girlfriend. The relationship ended, there were tears but it was transformational. The anxiety attacks slowly disappeared, I got back to living. At the time I was blind to the impact the relationship was having on my life but now I see how that relationship was my biggest stress. By taking action to deal with that stress everything else fell back into place. So identify your biggest stress and take action.
If you have difficulty sleeping at night then you may want to take another look at your stress levels. Stress is caused by the release of the hormones Adrenaline and Cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate as well as elevating your energy levels. During the evening you need to slow down your heart rate and reduce energy levels ready for a good nights rest.
Wind down in the evenings. Avoid stimulating foods and drinks after 4pm, that means caffeine, sugar and chocolate. Exercise in the mornings and not late at night. Take a nice warm bath before bed and try drinking camomile tea. Avoid bright lights in the evenings and swap TV for a nice book. Lavender oil on your pillow or wrists can also help.
If you suffer from bloating, lots of wind or you look down in the toilet and don’t like what you see, then you may be suffering from stress. During a stressful situation the Sympathetic Nervous System is stimulated and this leads to a whole cascade of reactions to deal with the threat. One of these reactions is the closing down of the digestive system. Digestion comes low on the priority list when danger is near by.
Be careful drinking caffeine after meals. Caffeine stimulates your “flight or fight” response and switches off your digestion. Take a good look at your diet and see how much of what you eat comes from nature. Go organic. Non-organic food is sprayed with chemicals that cause a stress to your body. Just washing non-organic food is not enough. Pesticides are designed to resist being washed off by the rain.
Aches and Pains
Some people just can’t seem to get back into full health. They always have an ache or a pain somewhere. If you find that you take a long time to heal following an injury or a workout session then you may be suffering from stress. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, is released when you are stressed. Cortisol is responsible for suppressing growth responses that would usually help you recover from an injury or workout.
Ask your partner for a massage or better still visit a professional massage clinic. Receiving a massage will help de-stress and also reinvigorate soft tissue by bringing fresh blood to damaged areas. Spend 30 minutes every evening stretching all your tight areas, or invest in a foam roller and start rolling! Work on getting to bed early, asleep by 11pm latest!
Stress has a large effect on the brain. The constant release of the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline is not only hard on the body but on the mind too. Stressed out people often suffer from depression, have energy swings, and struggle with mental clarity including memory issues.
Get your mind away from your troubles by trying some meditation. You don’t need to sit cross-legged to meditate. Try going for an evening walk. Also try starting a new hobby, or making some new friends.
Basically try to find a way to distract yourself from your daily stresses. Simply counting 20 slow deep belly breaths can be all the distraction you need from time to time. Give yourself a 5 minute break from whatever is bothering you and focus instead on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
A good social support system is one of the most important resources for dealing with stress. Talking to others, preferably face-to-face or at least on the phone, is a great way to better manage whatever is stressing you out.
Stress is stress no matter where it comes from. Taking daily action to combat stress will lead to a happier and healthier life. Start by identifying and then addressing your biggest stressor first and everything else will fall into place. Stress accumulates in the body so it is not always the final stress that tips you over the edge that is your biggest issue.
Good luck and RELAX!
Maje Ayida is a corporate wellness coach and CEO, Eden Lifestyle