Stress is a prevalent issue globally and in Kenya. For example, a recent study reported 61.1% moderate stress levels and a whopping 37% high-stress levels among medical students from a sample of over 9,000 med school graduates. Another research highlights heightened cases of stress in informal settlements. And these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg; stress is widespread in all areas and socio-economic groups. 

With increased inflation in Kenya, demands at work and home, inevitable happenings, and still facing the effects of the pandemic, stress is inescapable. Even much closer home, work, and school demands may cause stress; how often do you get stuck in traffic for hours on end to or from work? And if you walk, how long is the commute, and does it leave time for self-care and rest? How about our recent trend where young kids leave extremely early for school? With such lifestyles, burnout can build up slowly, and stress sneaks up on you without warning, bringing side effects and affecting your functionality. But it doesn’t have to be that way; you can still live a happy life amidst life’s chaos. How? By managing stress. This article will inform you of practical stress management tactics for an optimal life. So pull a seat and start your journey to sanity.

Why Is Stress Harmful?

Stress can have other deep-rooted effects, from affecting your relationships and job to other illnesses. Here’s a list to help you understand the gravity of the matter. It might just give you a light bulb moment about an issue you’ve been having but don’t know the cause. 

And if it’s a medical issue, seeking a doctor’s attention for tests and diagnosis is advisable. Lucky for you, we’re a one-stop shop, so why not call on us today at the Waterfront Clinic and let our friendly professionals take a look? 

Here’s why stress is detrimental:

    • Stress disrupts sleep patterns. And what happens when you don’t sleep well? Fatigue, irritation, and reduced productivity and concentration.
    • Physical Illness: If left unattended, stress can lead to drastic weight gain or loss, heart disease, high blood pressure, and hyperacidity
    • Weakened Immune System: 
    • Depression: Stress can escalate to detrimental mental disorders like depression and extreme mood and emotional instability. 
    • Stress-induced Harmful Habits: Stress-eating and substance abuse are other ways some people cope with stress; these are negatively impactful behaviors.
  • Dysfunctional Relationships: Unstable moods, emotional unavailability, isolation, and poor communication due to stress make relationships sour.
  • Pain and heightened Symptoms: Stress decreases one’s pain threshold, exacerbating symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions.
  • The American Psychological Association also links stress to musculoskeletal health because when you’re under pressure, your muscles tighten, causing migraines, back pain, and pulls.

All these factors affect your overall quality of life and performance at work. And no one wants that for themselves. Neither do we wish it for you. We’ve compiled a list of stress management tactics for you or your loved ones. Let’s dig in. Shall we?

What Can Be Done to Control Stress?

Here are the top five ways to manage stress before it manages you.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

While stress leads to disturbed sleep, it can also be the other way around; a lack of sleep can trigger anxiety. Sleeplessness can arise from mundane issues like diet, lifestyle habits, and how your bedroom is set up. And you can quickly solve this problem with better sleep habits using the following tactics: 

  • Get some fresh air and sunlight.
  • Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine in the hours before bed.
  • Set a sleep schedule.
  • Avoid using electronic devices for at least thirty to sixty minutes before bed.
  • Before you go to bed, try meditation or other types of relaxation.
  1. Adopt a Healthy Diet.

Consuming nutritious foods is beneficial not only to your physical health but also to your mental well-being. It can help mitigate the adverse effects of stress, strengthen your immune system, keep your mood stable, and bring down your blood pressure. Healthy eating also improves your gut health, ensuring proper digestion and nutrient absorption for maximum nutritional gains.

  1. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing yields instant magic for stress and anxiety relief. Most people suck in the air without exhaling, a chest breathing style that causes tension and anxiety. For stress relief, try these breathing techniques.

Pro Tip: Here’s our favorite breathing exercise for an instant change:

The U-Breath Method: Close your right nostril using your right thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Hold for five seconds. Release the right nostril and block the left one with your right pinkie. Exhale through the right nostril. Repeat five times.

Next time you’re anxious, do that and feel the instant difference.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that improve your mood and help in pain and stress relief. It also increases sleep quality and sedates you. 

Further, people who exercise regularly have a greater tendency to report lower levels of anxiety and a more optimistic outlook on life and themselves. And when you’re comfortable in your body, your mind follows suit. Get some much-needed relaxation with the help of these exercises:

  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Running

If your schedule allows only limited availability, try the below ways to keep moving while going about your daily activities:

  • Ride your bike to the errands rather than drive.
  • Instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs.
  • Do your house chores by hand.
  • Take a walk during lunch break.
  1. The 4A’s

When the capacity to deal with stress overwhelms, it’s necessary to bring mental and physical equilibrium back into alignment. Try these 4A’s methods to minimize stress: 

  • Alter: When you can’t avoid stressful situations, adjusting your behavior helps. This tactic includes working on elements like communication and time management.  
  • Adapt: Adapting requires frequently changing expectations, resulting in decreased stress levels—take a step back to look at the broader picture and train yourself to stop negative thinking.
  • Accept: Examples of acceptance approaches include forgiveness and learning from mistakes.
  • Avoid: You can minimize stress by preparing in advance, adjusting to your environment, and taking on a less demanding assignment. 

Final Takeaway

Chicken or the egg, which comes first? Stress or burnout. At the Waterfront Clinic, we encounter many cases of burnout, which, when addressed, will alleviate stress. Stress can frustrate you by affecting various body, psychological and social functionalities. It can cause headaches, low energy, illnesses, mood swings, and poor sleep. Don’t let it get to that point; medical attention can help you identify triggers and underlying issues and even point out stress when you’re unaware. And when you suspect you’re stressed, therapy can help to treat and calm the mind. From our experience, we’ve put together several pros for all your medical needs, starting with our qualified therapists who will steer you toward optimal mental health.

And with the tips in this article, you’re a step ahead toward controlling your health through stress management or prevention. You can start immediately by getting up for a break and a short walk after reading this piece. Then adopt other habits like proper diet and exercise. And finally, check into our clinic for professional help to take control of your physical and mental health; we’ve got you covered.