Occupational Therapist, Lennox Rochester, speaking at the National Council on Substance Abuse’s (NCSA) lunchtime lecture on ‘Managing Stress’ yesterday. (A.Gaskin/BGIS)

An occupational therapist is encouraging Barbadians to educate themselves about the signs of stress and practise healthy ways of coping.

Lennox Rochester gave the advice as he delivered yesterday’s lecture, hosted by the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) on the topic: Managing Stress, at its offices, located at the corner of 1st Avenue Belleville and Pine Road,   St. Michael. It was part of the NCSA’s activities to mark Drug Awareness Month.

Noting there are numerous contributing factors to the problem, such as poor environments at home or the workplace, anxiety, and unhealthy relationships, Mr. Rochester told attendees they needed to be able to realise when situations were getting out of control.

Some of the early signs that may be experienced by a highly stressed individual include heart palpitations, chest pain, irritable bowel syndrome, trouble sleeping, and fatigue. Persons may also suffer emotionally and mentally, with depression, anxiety and moodiness being some of the psychological signs. This could force some to turn to drugs and alcohol for relief.

However, the occupational therapist of over 20 years made it clear that this only masked the problem temporarily. “One drink and the world looks rosy right? When the effects of that goes away what happens? So that’s not the best way to handle it, it’s the worst way,” Mr. Rochester stated.

“Substance use, which is a means of disengaging from the stressor, because it doesn’t make it better for any significant period of time and the long term effects are usually problematic,” he added.

Instead, Mr. Rochester suggested resorting to wholesome coping mechanisms, such as engaging in relaxing exercises like yoga or meditation, or adopting a hobby which lends to one’s creative side.

He put his advice into practice at the end of the highly interactive session, conducting a brief relaxation exercise of deep breathing and meditation, which was welcomed by the participants.

Mr. Rochester concluded that being proactive could help to mitigate the impact of stress on one’s life.


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