Managing stress during difficult times

Author: Mr Andrew Deo Ongurapus. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • The symptoms of stress are physiological, psychological and behavioural in nature.

A recent survey conducted on households within Kampala metropolitan area and other districts such as Mbale and Soroti states that the skyrocketing prices of commodities has triggered stress among many individuals.

People are finding it hard to meet daily basic life needs due to limited finances and high prices of consumer commodities. 

Stress is a mental condition where an individual is confronted with excessive constraints and too many demands. It is an adaptive response to external situations that results in physical, psychological and/or behavioural deviations. Stress can sometimes be positive by improving the performance of an individual and negative by causing other psychological disorders such as anxiety, and depression.

There are various factors that trigger and cause stress, for example, personal factors such as individual’s inability to adapt to economic change; domestic factors such as debt, illness, unhappy marriages, death; and job/business factors such as intrinsic job/business demands, ambiguity, work overload and under-load, among others. 

The symptoms of stress are physiological, psychological and behavioural in nature. The psychological symptoms of stress manifest in form of anxiety, phobia, obsessions, depression, tension, irritability, boredom, among others.

The physiological symptoms include increased heartbeat, tensed muscles, extra adrenaline secretion, high blood pressure, headaches, heart attack, indigestion, gastric ulcers, back pain, coronary heart failure, among others. 

Behavioural symptoms include loss of appetite, increased substance and alcohol abuse, insomnia, over reacting on small things, over eating and biting finger nails, among others. Stress symptoms also manifest inform of allergies and physical disorders such as weight-loss, pimples, among others.

Other consequences of not managing stress are; inability to cope with demands of life, which leads to burnout, ineffectiveness, and low performance. In families and organisations, stressed individuals often make faulty decisions that affect them and are often indulged in uncouth behaviour such as violence, sexual misconduct, substance/alcohol misuse and abuse, etc. 

Some of the personal strategies to manage stress include engaging in physical exercises such as walking, jogging and swimming, building positive relationships with people, avoiding use of alcohol and recreational drugs and reviewing your priorities regularly. Also, find better and easier approaches to manage complex situations, meditate often, simplify your life by cutting back on obligations and set reasonable goals for yourself, eat healthy green foods, get enough sleep wherever possible, and avoid isolating yourself in order to prevent depressive thoughts.

At workplaces, stress can be managed by designing jobs to permit use of skill and discretion by job-holders, incorporating sufficient task variety and challenges to maintain employee interest, designing work to allow the exercise of responsibility by the job-holders, and providing sufficient authority to enable job holders to carry out their responsibilities adequately.

Also ensure clear work goals and targets that do not conflict with those set for others, provide adequate training and also proper implementation of disciplinary procedures, develop communication systems to allow free flow of information, develop supportive climate by promoting openness among all employees, recognise and reward exemplary performance, among others. 

Mr Andrew Deo Ongurapus is the co-founder of Free-Mind Therapy.
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