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Health

Dr Victor Ugo: Dealing with stress

Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) is a non-profit organization championing the fight against mental health stigma, with a focus on raising awareness of mental health and illnesses. MANI was officially launched in June 2016 by a team of young doctors and concerned individuals, founded by young leader Dr. Victor Ugo. QCT has partnered with Victor and the team at MANI to help bust some myths around mental health and offer some practical tips that you can apply at moments when you feel you need some additional support.

Today we’re focusing on the best ways to deal with stress. The word ‘stress’ is usually associated with negative feelings, but it’s important to acknowledge that it is a normal part of our lives and only becomes a negative when it gets overwhelming or feels unmanageable.

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Mentally Aware Nigeria is the largest youth-run and youth-focused mental health organisation in the country.

Below, Dr Victor Ugo shares his tips on how best to manage stress.

1. Learn to prioritise: When creating your ‘to do’ list, it is a mistake to prioritise by how easy a task is just so you can feel good about ticking it off your list. A better way to prioritise is to divide your task between those which are urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important; and neither urgent nor important. Focus on those that are both important and urgent and then move on. With time, you will get used to doing away with the last classification completely.

2. Respect your limits: We all have to admit that we can’t do everything, even if we had all the time in the world to do them. With increasing workloads, the usual thought is that with more time or more effort you can get things in order, but the reality is that more work just keeps piling up. One of the ways to deal with this is by learning how to set realistic expectations for yourself and learn to say no to activities you can do without.

3. Give yourself a break: Yes literally. It may not make sense to consider breaks with deadlines breathing down on your neck, but not stopping to breathe is much more likely to affect the quality of work produced, as well as your performance and energy levels. Every one of my staff (including myself) practices the Promodoro Technique, which schedules regular short breaks throughout the working day, and we are much better for it.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly – Don’t assume that you cannot be negatively affected by stress even if it’s come from doing something that you love. Remember to speak up when it gets too much, talk to a friend or mentor and learn how others are managing around you.

Visit the MANI website, or follow Mentally Aware Nigeria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more discussion and guidance on mental health and illness. If you need more information, check out The Mighty for more help and advice.

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