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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Dealing with two forms of stress from hectic road travels

Ordinarily road travel is supposed to be an exhilarating experience especially if you are doing so by day, and going through exciting places – some of the places that have especially natural views for the tourist’s eye such as the Zuma rock in Abuja, the old Jebba bridge, Mungo Park monument, the Niger bridge, Badagry beach, etc. But this breath of fresh air is soon forgotten as you begin to hit the bad roads which unfortunately tend to outnumber the very good ones. This is the beginning of stress!

Road travels have always held a lot of refreshing experiences especially going through the countryside, and Nigeria is rich with some of the most enthralling landscape sceneries as you traverse the variegated plains, forests as well as hilly, rocky and wet landscapes that run the length and breadth of the country. This, if done for the pleasure of it experts say can really be therapeutic; it douses your stress.

Suffice it to say that ordinarily journeying on a long distance on smooth road network and flowing traffic may not necessarily be a problem per se. But conversely, sitting for long in a vehicle and not moving anywhere, even on a short distance, can be a most gruelling experience. This kind of travel or journey readily brings about something potentially hazardous to health. It is what the experts call stress!

Depending on what the motive for your journey is, or the circumstances encountered in the course of the trip, you are bound to be confronted by this psychological strain if your journey is as unpleasant as travelling for instance, along Mokwa to Jebba, all in Niger State, as I did returning to Lagos after my trip to Minna. And afterwards, how about getting into West Africa’s largest city – Ibadan? It is usually a stand still traffic. On the road between Mokwa and Jebba, it is two sides of a bad coin – stress all the way.

Experts say head or tail you will be punished by the mental torture of stress in two forms if you experience such a journey. And so it is with many a long distance traveller and haulage operator such as tanker, trailer and lorry drivers who ply such axis. Experts say in such situations you come face to face with two forms of stress – Time Stress and Anticipatory Stress.

Time Stress
Well, according to research, if in such situations you are tensed or worried about time or the lack of it – regarding what you had planned on doing, or an endangered appointment, deadline, etc. then you are entrapped! This is enough to raise your blood pressure if the situation is not managed.

Anticipatory Stress
If you are feeling awful – stressed due to your new perception of the future; it could be a feeling of disappointments or looming failure concerning an event ahead of you. You are full of dread and worry i.e. a very unhealthy situation; it is capable of ‘eating out your heart’. But what can you do? You can only employ your mind power to deal with this by telling yourself this is not happening. However, this is the lot of everyone that travels on these dilapidated and traffic congested road networks.

Obviously Nigerians experience stress at levels higher than what experts say is healthy especially in an urban centre like Lagos, and not to mention traffic situations exacerbated by the general condition of our roads. And unfortunately in our clime, stress management is something that is relegated to the backseat. Nigerians consider this as something that will be attended to after all is said and done. But nothing ever gets done completely!
Dr. Mercola is an osteopathic physician and renowned American traditional and natural medicine expert; he says relegating (personal) stress management “is why it’s important to weave stress relief into your daily grind such that you do it automatically – like breathing and sleeping.”

Stress can deny you sleep

Sitting in that cozy air-conditioned Hiace bus for 15 hours, certainly lost all its pleasure and fancy. Apart from aches in the limbs and waist, owing to sitting too long in a vehicle, and the boredom that followed, stress of the two various forms mentioned above remains an important and major health issue that anybody should worry about. But as has been pointed out, stress in this regard is mainly brought on by the fact that traffic on our roads simply refuse to move along. It is the emotional trauma that experts talk about.

And so we cannot afford to underestimate the need for personal stress management. In understanding the importance of stress relief and the health hazard posed by this silent indicator of ill health, Dr. Mercola succinctly puts it in a way that answers most of your nagging questions: “…, Managing your stress levels is crucial to optimal health, and that is because all of your feelings, positive or negative, create physiological changes. Your skin, heart rate, digestion, joints, muscles, energy levels, the hair on your head, and countless cells and systems you don't even know about, change with every emotion.
Exercise can help deal with your stress

“Stress plays a major role in your immune system, and can impact your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, and hormonal balance, for instance. It can even ‘break’ your heart, and is increasingly being viewed as a cardiovascular risk marker.”

There are steps you can take to beat stress except that once you are in that vehicle travelling long distance on our dilapidated, traffic congested highways, there is very little you can do apart from accepting things that you cannot change. Better still, simply apply positive visualisation technique - imagine the situation going right. Yes, it does really work against anticipatory stress!

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