Stress Coping Strategies (II)
Walker believes that getting drunk is a good strategy for dealing with the troubles and traumas of life. Actually Walker has a load of troubles to contend with. His three children are at home because he couldn’t pay their school fees. He lost his two-bedroom apartment a month ago because he could no longer renew the rent. Added to these, his shoe-repairing business is experiencing serious depression and Ladi, his wife is diagnosed with malignant breast cancer. What should Walker do?
Meanwhile several calls are coming from the village demanding Walker’s financial input. Some are burial levies of his deceased relatives, others for community and church development purposes. Consequently, Walker decided to immerse himself in alcohol so that he would easily forget his problems. Really?
In relation to the subject matter of handling stress, the victim should be as far from alcohol as east is from the west. Alcohol should be reduced to the bearest minimum with the target of eliminating it entirely. The reason is that alcohol can complicate the problems of stress. As a drug, which interferes with the physiology and psychology of the organisms, alcohol initially acts as an active ingredient in the blood system. This can cause the victim of stress to become hyperactive but the latter impact of alcohol is that it is a depressant. More seriously, large alcohol injection can produce an altered state of consciousness in the individual resulting into wrong judgement, loss of memory and in some occasions, hallucinations.
Therefore, it is advisable to keep away from alcohol consumption when one is under stress. The practise may be the challenge of a lifetime for some people. Nonetheless, it is important to set one’s mind on achieving such a noble goal.
A proper understanding of one’s personality is necessary when handling stress. Beginning with the two types of personalities — Type A and B. The former is known to be ambitious, rigid, highly organised, sensitive, impatient, anxious and time conscious. The type A personality is more prone to the stressors in the environment than the type B, who are reflective, explorative and less rigid. Friedman’s (1996) two personality types (A and B) are comparable to introversion and extroversion respectively. Generally introverts may succumb to the bouts of stressors in the environment than extroverts. However there are peculiar differences in terms of constitution, gender, circumstance, history and type of stressors.
Adopting a positive attitude is yet another useful strategy for stress management. Beginning from one’s understanding of the assailing stressors one should understand that tough times don’t last, but only tough people do (Robert Schuller, 1984).
Stressors, troubles and trials of life invade us in such a manner that they create a false image and such a fearsome picturesque of intimidation and conquest. Yet, if one understands that they are transient, one will relax instead of succumbing to anxiety and fear. Developing a positive attitude towards the challenges of life includes an understanding that problems are solved in a relaxed than a tensed atmosphere. In fact, succumbing to anxiety and worry compounds the problem.
Adopting a positive attitude towards life involves stretching hands to the pillar of hope and seeing a better future. It means recognising the limitless potentials in one’s life, and using them to tackle life’s problems. It involves acknowledging the potency of an inner psychic power which when nurtured, can (and do) conquer every adversity, which challenges one on his/her part to greatness. One with a positive attitude underscores the fact that more than the problems or stressors of life, our individual response to them is the major cause of the problem. Therefore the stress is dealt with when we adopt a positive instead of negative attitude towards it!
Dr. Amaraegbu, a clinical psychologist lives in Lagos.