Dealing with S.T.R.E.S.S. once and for all

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Does it look like we can live in this planet anymore without being exhausted? There is just so much pressure on everyone. Work, family, and other daily routines have made a slave out of many of us; and that without any apologies.

The principle of rest is one that does not make sense to us anymore. We work all the time and then we manage to drag ourselves home to an already stressed spouse or family. And while they were waiting to get their dinners fixed by ‘the one who is to come’, the same expectation is projected on them by this homecoming “carcass”- having been used to the last ounce of sanity – and they are all in a mess of sarcastic proportions.

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This is not new to most people. But if you live in Lagos Nigeria, you have to double whatever your idea of stress is. It is maddening, to say the least. Although there are a few things about Lagos that seem to make up for the extraordinary level of stress, one of which is the comical tidbits dotting the whole landscape of our commercial scenery – the shrieking commuter driver, the uncivilized professional in his Mercedes strangely comfy with defying traffic laws, the overall disruption inflicted by these whimsical characters on the rest of us (smiles) obedient “novices”; yet we eventually reach the boiling point most times before we ever get an opportunity to anticipate the sweet cut-off (closing time) from drudgery.

And just wait till you are finally delivered to your doorstep after all the conniving incidences of the day and discover to your utter dismay that someone else within your social space has also been caught up in a similar cross-fire with management, traffic issues or something in-between. Here in Lagos, this is all too normal.

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Okay, let’s face it…I mean; what do we have to do now. Let’s work with an acronym. Yes, you are right, the word is STRESS. Save Time, Rest Enough and Succeed Socially. I hope that makes sense to you. Just three steps and we are well on our way to managing our lives and reducing stress.

1. Save Time: When we refuse to comply with certain laws of life, we are held to account by task force (all kinds of mishaps). For instance, procrastination is one habit that guarantees stress for all its customers. Putting away what ought to be done until it becomes an emergency will definitely claim a couple of grounds in your health. So, when you don’t procrastinate, you have no ‘carryovers’ and you work to time with little or no leftovers then all the time that should have been used to mop up emergencies will be free to use in self-initiated creative activities.

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It is interesting to note that the time is still used for activities but because the emotional state underpinning such creative activities is that of joy, interest and desire (unlike compulsion, pressure and anxiety), involvement does not translate to stress. Hence, the unfair cut back on our personal interests (spending time with family, doing a sport etc) is what sabotages our over-commitment to work (due to procrastination) in the form of stress

2. Rest Enough: Rest is not all about sleeping. While most of us don’t get enough sleep, we hardly explore other means of rest. Rest. It can also be achieved by simply shutting down the ever-running grind of the mind. Can we simply stop all the ‘calculations’ we are involved with in our minds and just be? I did this recently and it is just so sane. You know it seems as though we constantly have something to chew in our minds that we might be overrunning/abusing our minds.

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Oh Yes, I am for not having an idle mind (which by consensus we agree is a devil’s workshop) and being very productive. Good! Yet, it cannot be taken too far. What we need is equilibrium. There has to be a time when you just shut down and you are just there. It will amaze you how revived you will be. Such moments of solitude before we begin our day and before we call it a day will reduce the likelihood of stress in our lives. Remember that stress is more emotional than physical.

And when it comes to sleep, researches vary in their allocation of time. According to the National Sleep Foundation in the US, adults have sleep needs of 7-9 hours daily. Sleeping well is critical for productivity. Yet, if we take time to rest while we are awake (following my initial suggestion), even when we have to sleep a little less than what is stipulated, it will still be sound and replenishing.

3. Succeed Socially: Here is where most people really have an issue or two. And it is so connected to the first two points. When you do your work in time and you have less ‘carryover’ and you take time to rest apart from the unavoidable call to sleep, family and friends will find an energized, exuberant and present company in you. It’s so simple. Remember that it is our domestic crisis that aggravates all kinds of challenges we meet during the day; which means that they multiply the effects of all forms of mishaps that arise because these domestic happenings form the context for experiencing every other events in our lives. Hence, if we take care of ourselves by saving time and resting enough, we will have enough presence and opportunity to succeed in our family relationships with spouse, children, possibly extended family, friends and acquaintances.

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Now, after writing this long…I am really exhausted. I need some advice and I guess I could use some of the ones I just gave…

 

Credit: Images from Google

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