SAMUEL was only 15 when he began to experience stress. He did not know that the condition he gradually developed over time through that feeling of non-acceptance at home, by being seen differently by his own siblings, took its toll on his esteem and wellbeing. At 18, he developed suicidal tendencies. By a mere chance of sheer luck, one day the rope he hung himself with snapped. His last thoughts were he wanted to survive. Unfortunately, for another 22-year-old son and brother, who since he was 15, experienced stress at the hands of his drunk and abusive father, who would often beat up his mother and verbally abuse him. He took his own life when it got out of control. Such is stress. This week, Vilisi Gadolo, a peer educator on sexual reproductive health and mental health with Youth Champs for Mental Health (YC4MH), and psychology student Uate Tamanikaiyaroi, share simple and healthy ways to manage stress.
When someone mentions they are stressed, the usual response one normally gets is laughter. It seems like a joke.
But as various researches have proven, when stress is not managed, it takes its toll on a person's mental and physical health and wellbeing.
And because stress knows no barriers, it exists in schools, at work and at home.
According to Vilisi Gadolo, her experience finds that people do not freely talk about their issues, let alone coming forward to seek help when they feel they are being mentally strained.
When people try to solve their problems in various aspects of their life, they use various coping mechanisms, which could either be negative or positive mechanisms.
Ms Gadolo cites some of the negative coping mechanisms as smoking that can lead to other health-related issues, alcohol abuse, keeping to oneself, abnormal changes in behaviour and mannerisms, and insomnia.
People are encouraged to manage their stress levels using the positive coping mechanisms.
Keep a journal to record your feelings at any time; have a confidant to openly share your issues with; families must create a supportive environment at home to allow for anyone to share their issues; taking a walk for that peace of mind and a change in environment; remembering to breathe; hanging out with happy people; meditating and praying; and practising gratitude to always be grateful for all the small and big things you have in life.
"Like the law of attraction, the more you give, the more the universe gives back to you," Ms Gadolo said.
Mr Tamanikaiyaroi said there was yet to be a realisation that there are more positive ways to cope with stress, citing the culture-bound setting that exists in local families where the young should not talk nor are they provided with the safe space to express themselves.
"Stress can lead to depression if you keep your problems to yourself and you don't seek a supportive environment or people who can help," he said.
"Unloading is a very useful mechanism, talking to someone. The brain is constructed in such a way that electrical messages goes to and fro, from the body to the brain and vice-versa. When you are stressed, whatever we think possess energy and when you don't release that energy by talking to someone or keeping a journal which is a form of release, so just like any other electrical appliance, it explodes when there is no outlet."
They both agreed that stress leads to depression if not managed.
Stress is curable and it all starts with our own minds and focus.