The Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015 – 2030 estimates that up to 25% of outpatients and up to 40% of in-patients in health facilities suffer from mental conditions. The most frequent diagnosis of mental illnesses made in general hospital settings are stress, depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. At the community level, we continue to note an increase of violent acts during the ongoing pandemic. Strathmore Energy Research Centre realizes the importance of mental health and included it in its just concluded online women’s training on stand-alone solar systems. The customized training that began on 19th April 2021 was geared towards 16 sales personnel working at BBOX in Bulama, Kakamega, Kapsabet, Katito, Kendu Bay, Kitale, Luanda, Machakos, Nyamira, Oyugis and Voi.
Identifying causes of distress and eustress
The first step in the process of stress management is to identify our personal sources of stress. One of the lady participants spoke on the stress she faces while she prepares for a solar home system installation. Successfully finding a client is a win for any salesperson. However, after winning the client, the next step is ensuring the installation process is executed well leading to eustress: positive stress that pushes us to want to ensure an installation is done perfectly for customer satisfaction.
Distress, on the other hand, is experienced in the workplace when a fellow colleague undercut another. A good example of this was given by Katalina* when she explained for us a living scenario which we all can relate with. A salesperson can spend weeks negotiating with a client and assume that a deal is sealed. On the expected day, the client finally comes to the office; unfortunately, in her absence her colleague closed the deal and received the commission Katalina* had assumed was hers.
So how do we manage these types of stress?
Understanding what is in one’s control
As a professional, identifying what is in your control is key. Is your career bringing you stress? If it is, maybe it is time to re-read your Terms of Reference (TOR) and understand what your responsibilities are. Thereafter, align your work goals and implementation strategy to match your terms of reference. Yes, in every TOR there is a statement at the bottom that reads “any other duties”, but if any other duties are executed more than your actual terms, this could lead to stress, then undue fatigue, leading to depression, then burn-out and finally a breakdown which can take years to reverse.
One of the keyways to manage some of the stresses discussed above is through reframing our minds. This could include taking time to understand our strengths and opportunities and minimizing our weaknesses and threats. Find innovative and creative ways of executing your daily tasks within your already God-given strengths. Look for opportunities that can allow you to learn the new trends in your area for opportunities come to those who look for them.
The above are few approaches that can help you begin to manage your stress effectively. Tackling one stress point at a time is ideal to ensure you do not overwhelm yourself and quit the process midway. Visiting a certified counselling psychologist is also a good place to begin the process on stress management. Stress management is possible and within our power.
Take back control of your mental health today!
*Not her real name
This project is funded by KawiSafi and is led by Ms. Anne Wacera Wambugu. The article was written by Ms. Anne Njeri, the Communications Officer at Strathmore Energy Research Centre. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.