As the world grapples in resetting to the new normal necessitated by the Corona Virus pandemic, people are battling with diverse challenges such as financial loss, loss of relationships, working from home, anxiety and to a great extent uncertainty about the future. These difficulties consequently have led to people experiencing trauma, loss and stress. Allow me to expound more on STRESS stress is termed as the physical and psychological process of reacting to and coping with events or situations that place extra ordinary pressure upon a human being. A Stressor is an outside stimulus, this could be an event,place or person. The prevailing CORONA VIRUS disease which is global pandemic is a great source of stress to many individuals families and leaders. It is also interesting to note that stress is part of life and therefore necessary for life. We need some stress to be motivated to action. Such stress helps us to focus and pay attention to what we are doing.
Types of stress
Hypo stress is a low level stress
Eustress is useful stress
Distress is abnormal stress
Hyper stress is extreme stress or burn out
Stress can further be classified in terms of ;
Positive stressors such as; school projects, new job/promotion, new baby, new home, job interviews
Negative stressors comprises of issues such as deadlines, loss and grief, job loss, failure, ill health over-full schedule and the most recent global pandemic ;Corona virus disease.
Loss and grief is an aspect of stress I can identify with after losing my first born daughter at barely nine and a half years, immediately after the shocking news and during the week of the burial preparations my feelings were numb. I had not fully processed what tragedy had befallen my family, this could have been a defence mechanism that my body used so that I could not crush down. I would speak to the mourners confidently and even remind them of the biblical story of King David, when the Lord caused David’s son, the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to become very ill, David prayed to God that the child would get well. He refused to eat anything, and every night he went into his room and spent the night lying on the floor. His court officials would go to him and try to make him get up but he wouldn’t. A week later, David’s son died. His officials were even afraid to break the news to him as they were afraid that David would harm himself. On the contrary, his reaction to the death of his son was totally different, after learning that the child had died, the Bible says that ‘’David got up from the floor, had a bath, combed his hair, and changed his clothes. Then he went and worshipped in the house of the LORD.’’
David’s officials were amazed by this turn of event, when they sought answers from David this was his response, ‘’I did fast and weep while he was still alive. I thought that the LORD might be merciful to me and not let the child die. But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Could I bring the child back to life? I will someday go to where he is, but he can never come back to me.
After my daughter was laid to rest, the reality of the loss started to unfold which resulted to severe stress, my body experience almost all the psychological responses to stress which are anxiety and nervousness, panic attacks, anger and irritability, loss of motivation, forgetfulness, disorganization, withdrawal and avoidance , hyper arousal and even procrastination.
Physical responses to stress, many of which i could identify with are; increased heart rate, sweating, increased cortisol, shaking, lowered immunity, fatigue and body aches.
On the spiritual dimension stress results to a, I don’t care attitude, lack of commitment and spiritual withdrawal. `
The Corona virus pandemic has caused insurmountable challenges in many people’s lives. As people grapple with adjusting to the new normal, stress levels have hit extreme levels some even sinking to depression. Suicide cases have shot up, domestic violence, job losses, mental illnesses, financial crisis, family disintegration, diminished social interactions have all made life unbearable. How then do we navigate these issues and live meaningful lives?
In retrospect, when I suffered the loss of my daughter in the year twenty fourteen, I experienced great pain, it was a sudden death and nothing had prepared me to handle the stress and disillusionment that comes with the loss of a loved one.
I learnt to be grateful for the years I lived with her and not concentrate on her demise that she was in a safer place and not in any pain also made me feel at peace. The art of prayer and meditation immensely helped me to move on after the loss. Celebrating her birthday with Kenyatta Hospital cancer children also went a long way to alleviate the negative energy brought about by the loss of a loved one.
Over the years, there are proven ways that we can employ to manage stress.
Stress management starts with identifying the source of stress in your life. This sometimes may require a lot of soul searching or assistance by a therapist.
It is paramount to know that no single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you calm. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it is helpful to think of the four A’s.
Change the situation:
Avoid the stressor
Alter the stressor
Change your reaction
Adapt to the stressor.
Accept the stressor.
#1 Avoid unnecessary stress.
You may not run away from all situations in life but you may be amazed by the number of the stressors in your life that you can be able to eliminate.
Be assertive. Learn to say no. Only accept to get involved in situations that you are comfortable with, know your limits and stick to them.
Shun the people who stress you out. Limit the amount of time you spend with people who always cause stress in your life. You can also end the relationship.
Take charge of your environment. If travelling makes you anxious, reduce it to the bare minimum, hosting people can be stressful to some people, organize to meet them elsewhere, if listening to news is stressful for you, turn off your television set.
Take charge of your to-do list. Prioritize your tasks; scrutinize your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you realize that you have too much to handle, slash down your tasks, and eliminate the ones that are not truly necessary or drop them at the bottom of the list.
#2 Alter the stressor
As mentioned earlier, not all stressor can be avoided, if you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Altering the situation involves changing the way you communicate and handle situations in your life.
Create a balanced schedule. It is of great importance to balance work and family, social activities and personal aspirations. Neglecting any of this can result to a mental turmoil that can cause stress in one’s life.
Be flexible. As you expect other people to change their behaviour, be willing to also bend at least a little. This will help both parties to get to a common ground.
Have an open mind. You should communicate your feelings openly, if you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build up and stress will be inevitable in your life. If you have an exam to study for and a friend invites you for dinner, tell your friend you can’t make it and ask if you can reschedule the dinner offer.
#3 Adapt to the stressor.
As the Covid 19 pandemic bites, people have been left with no choice but to learn how to adapt and cope with the challenges that the pandemic has brought about. it is possible to adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Focus of the big picture. Take a critical look at the stressful situation. Ask yourself whether it is worth getting upset over, will that situation matter in a number of weeks, months or years to come. For example, if a house help stresses you up, you can get comfort in knowing that your children are growing up and after certain duration, they will be independent and will not be in need of a baby sitter at all.
Identify the silver lining. In every difficult situation there is a positive side that accompanies it. Learn the lessons in the situation and press on with life. Bad breaks are inevitable in life but it is how we react to them that really shape our lives. It is popularly said that when life throws you a lemon make lemonade.
#Accept the stressor.
Accept the things you cannot change in your life. Some events and situations in your life cannot be otherwise you cannot change your biological parents, death, a serious illness, a global pandemic similar to the current Corona Virus disease popularly known as Covid 19 disease. When such situations present themselves in our lives, we are left with no other choice but to accept them. This can be difficult but it can immensely reduce stress in your life.
Forgiveness is key. It is popularly said that, if you bottle up anger and resentment against another person, it is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Harbouring resentment and anger is a great source of insurmountable stress in your life. Learn how to let go and to let God take control.
Look for the upside. Great things in our lives are achieved during challenging times. Nothing worthwhile is acquired in the comfort zone. Embrace tough times as times of personal growth. Learn the mistakes and the lessons that are associated with stressful situations in your life.
Seek help. A problem shared is a problem half solved. During a stressful situation, talk to a friend or a therapist. Expressing what you are going through helps in relieving the emotions and acquiring options out of the situation.
Let go. Do not try to control the uncontrollable. If a situation is beyond your control, let it not stress you. Feel the pain and experience the emotions and then make a decision to move on with life. Everything in this world has a time frame. Nothing is permanent. Affirm yourself by ‘this too shall pass’…