Manage stress to prevent additional complications

Lydia Atieno

The environment we live in can be stressful, mostly, home and the workplace. Managing stress is the close relative of managing further complications because stress is a health hazard.

Medics say that the cause of stress stems from day-to-day situations, and that it’s important to understand how to manage it.

Experts say that the problem is not the stress factors, because they will always be there and avoiding them is hard. Managing such issues is far more important.


Gerald Ruzindana, a health and wellness specialist at Amazon Nutrition Cabinet, a clinic that deals with diet, physical wellness and lifestyle, says stress is a response to fear, it could be psychological or physical.

He explains that basically, stress comes as a result of body failure to respond or abide by the environmental demand. When the body ceases from becoming compatible with what environment is detecting, then it’s said to go under pressure.

Ruzindana says with stress, there are very many changes that happen to the body.

“Stress is a very dangerous state; if one is under pressure, the whole system is altered, the brain has hormones fighting to respond. This is the time when the brain communicates with other body systems, which is dangerous,” he says.

During this process, he says, the heart rate goes up, more blood is pumped to specific parts of the body and the body loses equilibrium of supplying oxygenated blood evenly.


Francis Kazungu, a general practitioner at Galien Clinic in Remera, Gasabo, says stress can result into an illness because it comes due to the poor functioning of the body. When the body is under stress, its normal functions cease and everything changes.

He says that the symptoms of stress affect health, even if one doesn’t realise it. At this point, conditions such as headache, insomnia or decreased productivity cannot be blamed.

Signs of stress, Ruzindana says, depend on an individual; some may experience headaches, muscle tension and pain, insomnia, among others.

Ruzindana explains that muscles always contract when someone is at ease, when under tension, the muscles become stiff.

“When these motions are reduced in the body, even movement is affected. This is because one moves only when muscles are stretching and when the circulation is flowing frequently well; when there is heaviness and stretch pain, then this person is stressed,” he says.

Some stress factors are chronic, Kazungu says, or not easily identified, and some are psychological, like depression.

Also, some changes may affect the digestive system. Stomach upsets are symptoms of both chronic and acute stress, and sleep problems like insomnia, says Kazungu.

“Feeling overwhelmed is also another sign; when one is overwhelmed by any activity, this could trigger stress. Irritability and anger are also signs when evaluating stress,” he adds.

In the long run, experts say, all these signs can result into illines, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes, among others.

Some may gain weight because of stress, while others can lose. It all depends on how one’s hormones react to a certain condition.

Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetic Association, says stress affects metabolism and so the body might not control glucose very well.

When it comes to diabetes, Musengimana explains, everything attached to hormones can be altered and eventually, the body might lose the will to balance sugar levels.

A lady gets a massage in Kigali. Courtesy


Ruzindana explains that when people are stressed, they get mood swings, and pick up unhealthy behaviours. For instance, he says they can start overreacting, abusing drugs or smoking, or becoming socially withdrawn.

“This is because when one is under stress, they lose interest in life, which is a very dangerous situation. That’s why those who are under stress are advised not to resort to bad behaviour,” he says.

Kazungu notes that it’s important for one to understand the condition well and then find contributing factors — what is triggering the stress.

Ruzindana says activities such as regular exercise, relaxation techniques like meditation and, massage, can treat stress.

He adds that relaxation massage is really important when it comes to dealing away with stress. It helps the body manage and improve its situation; this is because the relaxation of the muscles helps reduce stress.

“Basically, when using massage to manage stress, it’s like lying to the body to improve its situation; eventually the situation stabilises for some time. A sense of humour is ideal if trying to keep stress away; people shouldn’t live so seriously,” he says.

Socialising with family is also the way to go, this will help one find solutions to their concerns, which is important.

He adds that setting aside time for hobbies is also vital. However, people need to understand what hobbies are, and that everyone has a hobby, just find out what it is and explore it.

Identifying the things that make one happy could be a solution to stress. This includes reading books and listening to music, among others.

Ruzindana says a wellness specialist could help manage stress. He warns against using antidepressant medications which are counter prescribed. They tend to help relieve stress for only a short time, especially when it comes to psychological factors.

“Active ways of managing stress are better, rather than inactive ways. Although they seem relaxing, they increase stress in the long run,” he warns.

If one is under pressure, the whole system is altered /Net photo

Experts share their views

Minors can feel stressed or anxious because of the changes with their bodies. Preventing factors that could lead to stress is vital, this is because stress can lead to slow brain development and physical growth.

Olivier Habiyaremye, Paediatrician


There are some foods that reduce stress. For instance, avocados are rich in stress-relieving Vitamin B. They’re also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, and keeps anxiety away.

Joseph Uwiragiye, Nutritionist


Insomnia is also linked to depression which is a result of stress, therefore, it’s ideal to take a glass of milk before bedtime. Milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein and calcium. Potassium in milk can help relieve muscle spasms triggered by feeling tense.

Sylvester Twizerimana, Psychologist


People with non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart complications, should not be stressed. Families should ensure their loved ones are catered for; also, palliative care is needed for such people to prevent stress.

Celestine Karangwa, General practitioner




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