In the first post we described stress and how it can be beneficial if channeled properly but detrimental if left unchecked. In this post, we’ll look at some common causes of stress.
For us to know how to manage stress, we must know what causes harmful stress.
There are some families where people are wired with high tensions. They are aggressive, highly motivated, overtly comparative, and competitive in nature. These individuals by nature are prone to manufacture stress for themselves.
There are positions where a lot is expected of you by virtue of the office you occupy. Positions like bishops, pastors, their wives and their children, church wardens, bishop’s chaplains, evangelists, and prayer directors exact a lot of pressure on the occupants.
Musicians, politicians, doctors, lawyers and bankers are expected to dress in certain ways, drive particular cars, are deemed to be rich, and perform better to meet the expectations of society; when they can’t cope, stress comes.
Air traffic controllers, midwives, long-distance truck drivers, US soldiers (especially marines), pediatricians, mobile policemen in Nigeria, bank cashiers, and traffic wardens in very busy cities are all prone to stress.
The Seventh-day Adventists that observe the Sabbath are known to live longer than other religious groups because of the rest and a vegetarian diet; they are also not very forceful in their religious practices.
Excessive sleep deprivation, prolonged fasting, aggressive fear-induced prayers, and myths can cause stress especially when it is based on phobia of everybody being a suspect and even lizards and cockroaches being representatives and agents of the devil.
A pastor’s wife who previously was hypertensive presently lies in coma because her blood pressure rose so high after an all-night prayer session. She is more than 50 years old. Her current state is caused by the aggressiveness of her prayers and sleep deprivation in addition to church politics she got involved in (she later died and has since been buried).
A bishop I know, who was more than 60 years old, was diagnosed of high blood pressure. Still he went to join in a thirty-day fasting program without taking treatment. He further went on a five-day personal dry fast, after the 30 days without medication. He ended up in the hospital with stroke.
I also know of a bishop who, after a very heavy schedule of traveling, fasting, praying, and other services, collapsed at the entrance of a hospital. His kidneys failed and he nearly died.
The recent wave of Pentecostalism, if not properly managed, will have grave consequences on the health of both ministers and members.
From the passages above, barrenness can be a source of great distress.
Another source of distress is polygamy and subsequent feminine jealousy and rivalry, and sibling quarrels.
Financial crisis either as a result of financial losses, debts, death, laziness, or foolishness and poor pay can also lead to stress.
The Bible aptly describes what it takes to live in the same house with a quarrelsome wife. She is described as dripping water—very irritating—and that it is better to go to the forest and have some quietness than to live in the same “boiling kettle” with her. The home which is meant to be a place of respite and refuge can thus turn a husband to a refugee in the abode of a bar or a harlot.
Adulterous and drunk husband
An adulterous husband is a great source of stress for a faithful wife. It affects every aspect of the marriage—the finances, spirituality, and their health. A drunken husband returning from work is like a mad cow in a chinaware shop. He has to be tactfully handled to avoid maximum damage and embarrassment both to the wife and the children.
Stress of in‐laws or ‘out‐laws’ as the case may be
Besides the stress that in-laws bring to bear on a woman who has not conceived, the financial pressures and other demands in‐laws place on a family, occasionally, can be very stressful. Especially when you have the ones who always bring problems between the husband and the wife and disrupting family unity. There are others who fall into one trouble or the other that would need your intervention either in the Police Station or Court of Law. I call them out‐laws.
Foolish, rebellious, lazy, and dull children can become a source of stress. There are children who refuse to rise up to the challenges of life. Others might go into bad habits like cultism, drug abuse, prostitution and various vices.
Bad daughter- or son-in-laws (Genesis 26:34‐35)
From the passage above, it is obvious that Esau married Hittite women in disobedience to the strict command that God gave. And these women, either because of their heathen practices or uncultured behavior, brought great distress to Isaac and Rebekah.
Care for sick members of family and deaths—Ruth and Naomi
These women had the challenge of losing three males in their family, I suspect, after a prolonged period of taking care of each of them. From my personal experience, this can be very stressful. I had to take care of two aged parents as a newly wedded young man with very little finances. One had stroke, the other had spinal cord injury. Both parents died and were buried three weeks apart. It involved very serious emotional, financial, and physical stress.
Noise from hotels, churches, generators, record stores, traffic and motor parks can become very regular irritants that can build up stress without your knowledge. People who travel outside this country for holidays discover that their tempers are not as high as it is in Nigeria. Traffic holdups can sometimes be so frustrating that it causes some mental fuses to blow. In the USA it is called road rage.
Heat, odour, dirtiness, disorderliness
Each day I lived in the slums of Okere during my Secondary School days created so much emotional stress on me that my parents and those around me could not understand. I had to move away from home to another part of the town at the age of 19.
Workload, debts, competition, touts, drivers, customers, who are very demanding and those who will owe and not pay can constitute a regular source of stress that, if sustained over a long period of time, can become very deleterious. In Nigeria, it is said that the average small and medium enterprise pays about 38 different levies usually collected by very aggressive and uncultured young men.
The interest rate on bank loans is usually very high and this puts a lot of business men under immense pressure coupled with the fact that you have to buy your electric poles, sink your boreholes and even construct the road before your business takes off.
The average medical student is usually under immense academic strain from the huge volume of work. Adult education for married people is a double barrel source of stress.
In several Nigerian Universities, sexual harassment can put young ladies under constant apprehension of failure.
Harsh learning environments
Recently, I went to do a Masters Degree program in a Nigerian University. The seats were so bad that sometimes if you ate breakfast it would want to come out from your nostrils as you sit and write. We hardly had electricity, the lecture halls were hardly swept, and they were no functional toilets. Ladies went to the bush to do their things. It was terrible and stressful.
Studying outside your area of comparative advantage
When you do this, you will be like a crocodile trying to jump from a story building like a lizard, or fish outside water. None of them will find it pleasant. This also involves ministry and business; people should concentrate on areas of their gifting.
Piling up assignments and not reading always will eventually lead to academic stress during exams.
Poor academic foundation
Students who are not given proper academic foundations, when put to academic test, will break under pressure.
Personal Peculiarities and Phobias
I personally hate meetings and I fear heights. I dread ceremonies and public gathering even as a preacher. I also dread confined spaces and damp walls. The sight of a damp wall makes me fall sick immediately. I know a friend who has a phobia for flying in Nigeria and another one has not entered an aircraft once even though he is a multimillionaire.
I am usually more comfortable with travelling with public transport than travelling with a private car. I don’t have patience and tolerance for our policemen in our numerous roadblocks in Nigeria.
What is your own peculiarity or phobia?
Generational Stress and Insecurity
There are times when general stress envelopes an area, a country, or the whole world.
In Nigeria recently, kidnapping became very rampant and a lot of people slept with one eye open and walked looking at everyone as a suspect. The city of Aba was so hard hit that a lot of families fled to various parts of the world. Many have not returned till date.
Even in our immediate environment, the very recent activities of cultists among people as young as teenagers created an unusual tension. My neighbor’s son in his early twenties was shot dead. I can imagine the pain the family went through and the fear that gripped every other parent along that street that had young boys.
As at today, the average young black man on the streets of America must be very apprehensive if he sees a white policeman walking towards him, because several young black men have been killed by white policemen for the simplest reasons.
Other examples include:
- Ebola scare in West Africa.
- Boko Haram crisis in North Eastern Nigeria.
- Muslim fundamentalist radicals in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, Kenya and Somalia.
In the next post, we’ll look at some ways stress can be managed and controlled.
God Bless You.