Many of us use the word “stress” to mean the daily annoyances that we encounter at work, home, or other social places. We say, for instance, “Mr X is stress” to denote an irritating and unsupportive colleague, or “traffic today was stress” to mean that our travel was a nightmare.
We are not wrong.
In so speaking, we describe stressors, which can come from school, work, financial issues, major life changes or work. They include daily traffic snarl-ups, lack of money, death of a loved one, heartbreaks, health concerns, difficult supervisors, unrealistic pressure at work and relationships that are not working, all circumstances and events that will tax your coping abilities.
Stress, on the other hand, is how we personally interpret and respond to these stressors. Fact is, stressors will always be there, but we don’t have to let the stressors have a grip on us.
As part of the 100% Human initiative, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore says, “We recognize that employees are human beings, and need to be treated as such. Leave days, flexible working and the freedom to switch off after work are a small investment to make in the team that ensures your success.” Therefore, air your views in a non-confrontational manner, about working conditions that are not supportive: facilities, work pressure, unsupportive work structures, supervisors or colleagues. Be heard.
Stress and health concerns
Stress is a word borrowed from physics to mean that humans, like objects, though able to resist moderate outside forces, will lose their resilience under intense pressure. We manifest this through physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms – and it can be ugly. Sadly, stress is a major contributor to several health concerns like coronary heart disease, cancer, lung problems, accidental injuries, cirrhosis of the liver, and even suicide.
Personality and stress: self-assessment
Research has shown that people with Type A personality are more at risk of stress. They are excessively competitive, can be hostile, are self-critical and seek goals without feeling a sense of joy in their efforts or accomplishments. In addition, they are in a constant sense of urgency, they become impatient with delays and unproductive time quickly, and often schedule commitments too tightly. People with this personality are easily aroused to anger, they see the worst in others (to them everyone is guilty unless proven innocent), are envious and often lack compassion. These persons are easily aroused to anger or hostility, always seeing the worst in others (to them everyone is guilty unless proven innocent), are ever displaying anger, envy and a lack of compassion.
Do these traits define you? If yes, then you are not only likely to swim in the murky waters of stress but also risk a heart disease.
1. So how do we navigate through life and its stressors, which can seem like a path full of landmines? Let us consider a number of coping strategies.
2. Work on living a relaxed and easy going life. Live within your means. It is your life. So don’t try so hard to impress people.
3. Focus on acquiring a sense of commitment rather than alienation, control rather than powerlessness, and a perception of problems as challenges rather than threats. This is what we call hardiness.
4. Learn to face challenges head on as opposed to responding to stressors in an emotional manner, especially using defensive appraisal. Don’t just pray about things, do something about it also.
5. Be an optimist. Positive thinking is not an idle phrase. Learn to seek social support. No man is an island. Talk to someone you can trust. Connect with relatives and friends, exercise, and learn to be assertive – let not people trample on you.
6. Get enough sleep. Learn to do one thing at a time. Strive to live in the present. Yesterday’s pain and failures should not define your today. Quit relationships that are not working. Don’t cling on relationships that hurt you and cause you tears.
7. Finally, make time each day to do something that you enjoy. Is it dancing, or watching the sun go down? Then do that.