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Stress, the silent killer

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Stress PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

You are stressed. You cannot live in Lagos and not be stressed. It’s an extreme environment and I don’t think people realize that they can fight back, they can reverse the effects of stress on their lifestyles. You may not be clear what I mean when I talk about the effects. This explains why the life expectancy of the average Nigerian is so low.

Stress can have an enormous impact on your physical, emotional and mental health. It’s important to note that the body cannot distinguish between one stress and another.
Everybody suffers from stress in one way or another but how stress is perceived is a very subjective matter. For example, someone who works with bears would be less stressed when confronted with a wild bear than someone who sees a bear for the first time. Here are list of signs that indicate you are suffering from stress and ways to combat your daily stress levels:

Impotence
If you suffer from heavy amounts of stress then it is not uncommon for your sex drive to go down. Stress is a response to a threat whether that is physical (being attacked), mental (worrying about financial security), emotional (relationship issues), Chemical (medical drugs), and Nutritional (toxic unnatural foods).

During stressful times the hormone cortisol is released which increases energy supplies by elevating sugar in the blood but at the same time suppresses non-essential things like reproduction. When under threat of getting an erection is the last thing the body is concerned about.

Take Action
Discover your largest source of stress and deal with it. Here’s a true story about a stress that overtook my life. Some time back I started developing anxiety and it grew worse to the point where I couldn’t function. I tried everything to combat the anxiety from changing my diet, to exercising more, and even meditation.

Nothing worked until I addressed the thing I had feared the most, the relationship I had with a girlfriend. The relationship ended, there were tears but it was transformational. The anxiety attacks slowly disappeared. Then, I was blind to the impact the relationship was having on my life but now I see how that relationship was my biggest stress. By taking action to deal with that stress everything else fell back into place. So identify your biggest stress and take action.

Sleep
If you have difficulty sleeping at night then you may want to take another look at your stress levels. Stress is caused by the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate as well as elevating your energy levels. During the evening you need to slow down your heart rate and reduce energy levels ready for a good nights rest.

Take Action
Wind down in the evenings. Avoid stimulating foods and drinks after 4 pm that means caffeine, sugar and chocolate. Exercise in the mornings and not late at night. Take a nice warm bath before bed and try drinking chamomile tea. Avoid bright lights in the evenings and swap TV for a nice book. Lavender oil on your pillow or wrists can also help.

Aches and Pains
Some people just can’t seem to get back into full health. They always have an ache or a pain somewhere. If you find that you take a long time to heal following an injury or a workout session then you may be suffering from stress. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, is released when you are stressed. Cortisol is responsible for suppressing growth responses that would usually help you recover from an injury or workout.

Take Action
Ask your partner for a massage or better still visit a professional massage clinic. Receiving a massage will help de-stress and also reinvigorate soft tissue by bringing fresh blood to damaged areas. Spend 30 minutes every evening stretching all your tight areas, or invest in a foam roller and start rolling! Work on getting to bed early, asleep by 11 pm latest!

Mood Swings
Stress has a large effect on the brain. The constant release of the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline is not only hard on the body but on the mind too. Stressed out people often suffer from depression, have energy swings, and struggle with mental clarity including memory issues.

Take Action
Get your mind away from your troubles by trying some meditation. You don’t need to sit cross-legged to meditate. Try going for an evening walk. Also, try starting a new hobby, or making some new friends.

Basically, try to find a way to distract yourself from your daily stresses. Simply counting 20 slow deep belly breaths can be all the distraction you need from time to time. Give yourself a 5-minute break from whatever is bothering you and focus instead on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly.
Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.


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