Access to information 24/7, a new disease that seems to teach us something new every day, rants and shouts from millions or even billions of people who have turned experts overnight. Yes this can be frustrating. Then one has to also deal with likely financial fallouts, what about job stability and especially in fragile economies everything seems to be on the line.
Even the thought of being infected or someone close even losing his or her life keeps you on edge. Staying at home or simply avoiding crowds seems to make some of us extra anxious.
That extra stress from all the above and many more does have a negative effect on our health especially our immunity at a time when it should be at its best to help fight this new virus that seems to affect much more than health; it literally seems to want to shut the world down.
As humans we are extremely robust and we can overcome this as our ancestors have done in the past but we may also benefit from a few guidelines that make life much easier.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ARE STRESSED
As humans we assess situations and when we conclude that we do not have adequate resources to deal with it, we perceive it as stressful and our body will respond by;
- Blood pressure rises
- Breathing becomes more rapid
- Digestive system slows down
- Heart rate (pulse) rises
- Immune system goes down and we are prone to diseases
- Muscle becomes tense
- Lack of sleep
Imagine subjecting your body to all the above for long periods of time.
COPING WITH STRESS IN DIFFICULT TIMES SUCH AS THIS
I doubt if anyone has all the answers to managing stress all the time. All said and done, exercise and laughter will be competing for the top spot in the management of stress.
- This is a great way to bust stress. Exercise has been proven to have a beneficial effect on our physical and mental state.
- Laugh often
- People who learn to laugh even at themselves cope better with pressure
- Time management
- Make sure you have personal time each day to organize your life. Learn to delegate.
- This is a perfect time to learn a new hobby or catch up on many things you have postponed for a long time.
- Play/learn new games, read books that are not related to your job
- Dietary modifications
- Cut down on alcohol and drugs (I mean hard drugs and not your prescribed medication). If possible avoid them altogether.
- Cut back on your consumption of coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water. Ensure your meals are balanced
- Grab a cup or two of pure cocoa powder and warm water every day
- Praying helps us cope because we accept that there is a being superior to us who can solve our problems. The Holy Bible tells us “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
- We need to give ourselves a break from the 1001 gadgets we use especially to be in constant touch with the rest of the world. A telephone break for instance will be helpful.
- Make time to Sleep
- You cannot cheat nature. Sleep will refresh you.
- Stay Connected
- Speak to family and friends on the phone since we have to limit contact and movement.
- Support the less privileged & frontline workers
- Can you help people with sanitizers, masks, food, clothing or money etc? Consider the frontline works as well.
- Donate Blood
- You will be surprised how donating blood safely can boost your mental health in a time like this. Remember many people have other health challenges aside of COVID-19 and without blood will lose their lives. ( look out for places to donate safely where all the necessary precautions have been put in place)
Adopting Coping Skills
- Talk to people you can trust. Express your worries and thoughts. Do not wait till you are overburdened and can no longer cope
- Build and keep healthy relationships. It makes a world of difference
- Learn to breathe well and do it often. Take deep breaths through your nostrils and exhale through pursed lips.
- Relaxation techniques
- Massage, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy and reflexology are a few of the techniques that have been helpful to many people
- Listen to music that you enjoy or ones that calm you down.
- Spend some time in your home but outdoors. The sun and nature helps
- Start a garden if you don’t have one and this is a great time to get some indoor plants if you can.
Seek Professional Help
You may need the help of a Medical Doctor or a Psychologist who will do the necessary tests and use the appropriate techniques or medication to help you scale the hurdle.
The coping advice above can be used not only to minimize or prevent stress but also to manage stress.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, ENSURE HYGIENE, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials Ltd/MOBISSEL/St Andrews Clinic
*Dr. Kojo Essel is a Medical Doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in Exercise Therapy, Fitness Nutrition & Corrective Exercise.
Thought for the week – “Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency.” –Natalie Goldberg.
- The Holy Bible