Updated: Jan 12
I was given the opportunity to create awareness on stress and the need to deploy measures to optimize their stress levels - by visiting Shalom Baptist Church on 26th July 2019.
A church filled with energetic and committed young individuals, I found myself leading a song and clapping to the tune of good praise songs, when I had made an entrance with the intention of delivering a well rehearsed presentation.
The head of the church? A Spirit- filled gentleman; Pastor Ernest Appiah. Thanks for pushing me up the podium to help people better their mental health and protect their mental space.
Because this was my first time to the place, I made a Queens move by exploring the area of Fawode, a suburb of Kumasi, before I entered the church.
With this blog post, I intend to educate my readers and liven their tastebuds on the need to adopt an unladen lifestyle which feeds on measures to reduce stress to the lowest limit, because long life is enjoyed when it is lived to the fullest.
So what is stress? Everyday English! Members of the church projected stress as the discomfort they felt they are stressed!The word itself looks stressful! Stresssss…
Just to ice the injury surrounding the word; stress is actually not a bad thing. The stress response; when working properly is the body’s way of protecting you. This helps you stay energetic, and alert, focused for the task at hand. Be it that exam drawing its ugly head close, that presentation you want to murder so intently, that girl you are dying so hard to ask out or your paralyzed legs which suddenly give in to full power when a dancing car heads your direction.
Your body realizes the frantic call for help and floods your system in a sea of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which float in your body, to rouse you for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure rises, your breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. Classic sympathetic response!
These changes increase your strength and stamina, speed up your reaction time, and enhance your focus—preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand. At this point, I would advise you enter a comic shop and get yourself a cape with a mask.
However, beyond a certain point, stress halts being the vehicle of help and starts the engine that causes major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your quality of life.
This can lead to serious health problems by disrupting nearly every system in your body.
Like many of us in today’s demanding world, there’s the tendency to be subject to chronic stress, that our body undulates in a flux of stress all the time.
Chronic stress can
1. Suppress your immune system.
2. Upset your digestive and reproductive systems.
3. Increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
4. Speed up your aging process.
5. Finally rewire your brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
However, what causes stress depends largely on your perception of it. Some people may savor what rattles you and keeps you awake in the middle of the night. A terrifying experience of getting up in front of people to perform or speak, may be the spotlight others live for.
But bear in mind, There is always a way to regain your balance on the scale of whatever event or situation is stressing you out; by tilting towards the center of positive energy.
What are some of the ways to deal with stress effectively?
A TED talk by a renowned neuroscientist revealed we keep ourselves organized by finding a permanent home for basically everything we have, as a master key to dealing with stress. A locker for our folded clothes, A shelf for our books and a heart for our love letters.
Here are some tips to help you keep stress at bay.
1. Prayer. Research shows that people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life. It is said they are able-bodied to cope with stress, heal faster from illness, and experience increased benefits to their health and well-being. On an intellectual level, spirituality connects you to the world, which in turn enables you to stop trying to control things all by yourself; throwing everything at the feet of the Creator. When you feel part of a greater whole, it becomes easy to understand that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in life.
2. Exercise. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity that has its source from a boost of endorphins. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective in dealing with mind – leaching stress.
3. Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress and soothe the nervous system; in the tantrums of agitation and insecurity. According to a study led by Sarah Townsend, an assistant professor at USC Marshall School of Business, The best person to provide measurable relief from stress is the one who genuinely understands your emotions and response. It could be that family friend, co- worker, sibling or spouse. Talk the stresss away!
4. Engage your senses. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you. If you’re a visual person, try to manage and relieve stress by surrounding yourself with soothing and uplifting images. Slowly savoring a favorite treat could also be very relaxing, however mindless stress eating will only add to your stress and your waistline. It is recommended that you eat slowly and focus on the food in your mouth. You could also sip a steaming cup of coffee, tea or a refreshing cold drink just to wash that stress down your gut.
5. Learn to relax. You can’t be completely responsible for all life’s problems. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the polar opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities reduce your everyday stress levels and boost feelings of joy and serenity, increasing your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure; always delivering that clutch performance- Michael Jordan style!
6. Eat a healthy diet. The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress, while a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.
7. Get your rest. Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. At the same time, chronic stress can disrupt your sleep. Whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep by adopting sleep hygiene methods. The aim of good sleep is you make you feel less stressed, more productive and emotionally balanced.
With these stress- hacking tips, I hope my attempt to enlighten you will probe your mental hands, into taking stress by its reins and mounting it appropriately.
Thanks for reading