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The Consequences Of Stress (II)


An axiom has it that there is virtue in moderation. This lesson is relevant to the issue of stress. At the moderate level, stress is advantageous. It is a motivator of our action, the backbone of a committed behaviour as well as a reliable source of encouragement. Yet beyond this level, stress becomes consequential and problematic. It moves into the realm of distress and discomfort.

Stress can be oppressive. It forces the victim to experience a form of detour which endangers the achievement of noble goals. An African proverb has it that it was fire (stress) that forced crayfish to bend. Many mortals have lost focus, sold out, compromised and threw in their towel because of the intense power of stress. Others have become shadows of themselves and their lives dreams because they couldn’t manage the stressors in their lives. More than experiencing distraction or a detour, the loss of meaning of life and the ultimate lack of fulfillment which results from inability to handle stress is the baneful portion of many.

No doubt the pursuit of success in any life endeavour is normally stressful. Both attainment and maintenance of success will test the management skill of the successful. Several are those mortals who stumble and fall on the roadside when they fail to adjust to the stressful demands of the game. It is ironic that a significant proportion of those who attain success are unable to manage it because of the high degree of stress, which is associated with attaining success. We are familiar with erstwhile millionaires who die bankrupt, celebrities who commit suicide, popular politicians who die ignoble deaths.

Again stress can disrupt some brain activities such as memory, right judgement and creative imagination. Stress can cause loss of memory, lead people to make wrong judgements because of false perception, as well as hinder creative thinking. For some others, stress may work in the opposite direction. There are a few mortals who are at their best when they are under heavy pressure. Yet this shouldn’t be allowed to go on for a long time because a combination of chronic and prolonged stress will obviously create adverse effects.

Chronic stress does a lot of damage to human relationships. Basically this stems from the fact that stress negatively affects the physiology and psychology of the individual. Set in the mood of fight or flight, most people may be far away from being humane, noble or virtuous. Acting from the viewpoint of false perception, impaired judgement and threatened destiny, many mortals may likely tend towards irrationality that rationality. Therefore, business and financial relationships suffer, marital intimacy is marred, spiritual decorum is forsaken, and all one used to hold sacred may be desecrated. In the context of all these; one can see the need to be kind to people we meet on our way because everybody is faced with one form of stress or the other.

Particularly stress has adversely affected the existence and health of many homes and marriages. Several couples unable to handle the stressors directly fall back to use the defence mechanism of displaced aggression thereby increasing the sore points in their marriage.

Dr. Amaraegbu, a clinical psychologist lives in Lagos.

Obviously stress, is a significant enemy of libido and many couples under the onslaught of stress are struggling with the bitter taste stress deposited on their conjugal bed.

The consequences of stress are immensely heavy. We shall consider how to handle these hazards in another edition.

Clinical Psychologist & Author
Lives in Lagos.

Dr. Passy Amaraegbu, a clinical psychologist lives in Lagos.

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