By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos-City Editor
LIVING in Lagos can be as stressful as living in a war zone; the weather is constantly humid, traffic is hellish, living conditions are horrid, the government doesn’t give a shit, and in the last few days, Lagosians might have had a taste of what hell jmay look like with the midday intense heat.
For most residents, it couldn’t have been worse with last year’s ban on commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada, from plying some roads in the state.
The enforcement of the ban, which began in October, turned violent when okada operators took to the streets to protest indiscriminate arrest of their members and subsequent seizure of their motorcycles. They, in the process, destroyed public facilities, including BRT buses.
This, however, angered the state government, warranting a heavy clampdown on the defaulters by policemen, even on inner-city streets, not included in the official restriction notice. All these have made life miserable for Lagosians. At every bus-stop, commuters are seen stranded, while some were left with no option than to take a long trek to their destinations.
Even car owners are not spared. The ban has witnessed an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, as those who rarely use their cars, for fear of being held up in traffic and missing business engagements, have no option than to put their cars on the road and spend hours in traffic.
The worries do not end there, as every person behind the wheels are weary of policemen and other law enforcement agents in several shades of uniforms, prowling the streets to enforce the Lagos Traffic Law, which among other regulations, banned eating while driving, making phone calls, and driving against the traffic, with many of the one-way streets unmarked.
All these are enough to stress out even the calmest soul, and sometimes most people who are stressed out don’t even know it until it’s too late. No wonder then CNN’s Christiane Amanpour called Lagos the third unlivable city in the world after Harare in Zimbabwe and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
According to health experts, constant stress puts one’s health at risk. If the mind and body are constantly on edge because of excessive stress, one may face serious health problems. But it is an irony of sorts that the city of Lagos, which prides itself as the centre of excellence and commercial capital of Nigeria, still attracts visitors in their hundreds daily.
A stress expert, Dr. Noble Oguguo, however, disagrees that living in Lagos induces a special kind of stress on any individual. In his words, “it is a function of mindset. The same environment that poses a challenge to an individual could well be an opportunity to another because a lot depends on the individual’s disposition. What is a problem for one person could be turned to an opportunity for another.”
He noted that the environment generally throws up challenges, whether in the city or in a village, but a lot depends on the coping skills of the individual. “The basic difference between an individual with good coping skills and the other with poor coping skills is the disposition of the mind and the understanding of the context and content of the challenges thrown up by the environment.
“In the journey through life, the environment throws challenges at us and make demands on us. The inability to meet up with the challenge and the individual caves in under pressure is what exposes him to distress. On the other hand, the demand on an individual that will make him mobilize resources – time, talent, treasure, skill, good health, intelligence, conceptual ability, family and social network – to confront the challenge successfully is Eustress.”
Oguguo, author of Executive Stress Management: A Strategic Approach To Stress Without Distress, listed the causes of stress to include self (health, debt, low self-esteem), family, work, unrealistic targets and inability to meet expectations, while the health problems of stress are high-blood pressure, damage to blood vessels, heart attack, diabetes and poor performance.
ON some coping strategies, the stress expert advised people to avoid unnecessary stressors like learning to say no, expressing feelings instead of bottling them up, accepting the things one cannot change, be willing to compromise, making time for fun and relaxation and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
“People often ask me how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and I say it’s simple: exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, reduce caffeine and sugar, avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, and get enough sleep,” he said.
Oguguo can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org