I discussed stress last week and I would like to continue from there. Stress affects various areas of our bodies including our metabolism, memory and immune system. That said, under normal circumstances, our mental, emotional and physical state should return to normal once a stressful event has passed. This is where mental fitness comes into play, helping us maintain our wellness levels even when dealing with stress. Last week, I focused on types of stress. Today, I would like to talk about stress triggers. The world we now live in involves many stresses that are beyond our control. For example, going for a job interview, leaving home three hours before time, and getting to the interview location late because there was an accident on the road or public transport drivers were on strike or public transport that came by were packed. This simply described a situation that can trigger a crisis for someone living with sickle cell. The worst that can happen is one getting to the interview in pain, having a sickle cell crisis because of all the stress one went through. This right here is the reality of anyone living with sickle cell. It is therefore important to know how to manage stress when it occurs. Anyone reading this who has no awareness of sickle cell, would say this is life. There are many different causes of stress, and each one can affect us differently. If you can find the root cause of your stress, it can help you manage and even resolve it, so it doesn’t result in a sickle cell crisis.
Below are some of the most common reasons we experience stress.
Financial obligations: Not being able to meet one’s financial obligations is a big stressor for many people. A lot of people living with sickle cell have financial worries. Some situations that might cause financial stress include the inability to pay your bills; long-term unemployment and increasing debt. Financial stress will lead to a crisis for someone living with sickle cell. One major reason for anyone with sickle cell to have financial worries is not having money to look after oneself when sick, not having money to get health insurance, not having money to buy one’s regular tablets, not having money to see a doctor for a check-up and not having money to go to the hospital when one has a crisis. All these are stress triggers for anyone living with sickle cell.
Death of a loved one: Most of us have experienced the devastating emotional impact of the passing away of a loved one. For many of us, it is not only grief that we feel. Sometimes, the death of a loved one runs deep, especially if that person was one’s financial, emotional and physical back-up. Oftentimes, the stress hormones are so strong that they throw other hormones out of balance. This leads to fewer white blood cells, which are key to protecting the body from infection. And we know that infection among other things can trigger a crisis.
Job loss: The loss of a job is not just about the loss of income but also of one’s identity. It causes our self-confidence to take a knock as well. In some cases, being stressed and unable to find work for a long period of time can lead to job search depression. This is real, because it is a culmination of rejection letters to uncomfortable interviews, finding that perfect job is stressful, to say the least. It can be overwhelming, to the point where your job-hunting process feels completely hopeless. Feeling hopeless about one’s job prospects and career path can further exacerbate stress levels. This stress is difficult to brush off and can lead to depression and a crisis.
Traumatic events: Traumatic events such as natural disasters, abuse and car accidents are often completely out of our control. These kinds of unpredictable and unforeseen events naturally create a lot of stress and post-traumatic stress disorder for those that experience them.
Problems at work: In today’s increasingly fast-paced world, many of us feel that we constantly have to do more at work to keep our jobs. This compounds with the increase in time pressure that most of us feel from today’s near-instantaneous communications. Workplace stress can be especially prevalent among those living with sickle cell, working parents and women in male-dominated industries. Regardless of the reason, constant stressors at work can cause employees living with sickle cell to suffer from burnout and experience Sickle cell crises.
Emotional wellbeing struggles: All of us are subject to low moods and experience worry, especially when one lives with an illness. But these emotional states can lead to chronic stress without the right emotional regulation skills. This can develop into anxiety and depression, which can once again land one in hospital.
Relationship issues: While all relationships create stress, many types of stressors are relatively mild and easily dealt with. It is the larger issues within relationships such as abuse, divorce or an unhappy marriage that produces a lot of stress for the people involved.
Stressful situations pop up in daily life, not just major life events or changes. That’s why we need to understand the types of stressors and how they can impact areas of our lives. It’s a fact that taking care of one’s emotional wellbeing matters. Life presents events that challenge you, but when you know how to face these obstacles with a resilient mindset, your confidence in your ability to get through any circumstance is strengthened. Your resilience grows when you recognise the emotions that trigger you and express them in a constructive manner To transform that adversity, begin by observing and managing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. That helps determine the actions you take and completely changes the way you handle stressful situations and make decisions. Next week, I will talk about how stress affects all our various body systems.
If you would like to get in touch with me about Sickle cell, do so, via email: [email protected] And do checkout my blog: https://www.dailylivingwithsicklecell.com/ My book on Sickle Cell – How To Live With Sickle Cell and my other books are available for purchase on www.amazon.com