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Opinions of Thursday, 25 December 2008

Columnist: Barnes-Pryce, Allswell

Coping with Stress before Round Two of Election 2008!

Because Ghanaian voters were unable to choose a president on December 7, 2008, they must wait impatiently for three additional weeks to make that vital decision, which, for all intents and purposes, will be for the good of the nation. In the interim, such a wait, although short, may appear to be never-ending for those party supporters and agents whose careers and futures are largely dependent on the successes or failures of either John Evans Atta Mills or Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. It is during these important, stressful periods of a person’s life that bad habits, such as drinking and smoking, are courted, leading to dire health problems later in life.

It is a known fact that some smokers tend to smoke more if they feel stressed, and the same can be said of those who drink alcohol, but it is simply saddening to note that many otherwise tobacco- and alcohol-free people tend to take up these bad habits when subjected to heavy stress, which can seriously undermine their overall health. And what can be more stressful than to be on the road stumping for one’s political candidate for Ghana’s highest public office? Although political campaigns and vote-seeking efforts can be fraught with difficulties – seen and unforeseen – people in the midst of such “storms” must still remember to eat on time; eat healthful foods that are rich in fiber and low in fat; exercise as often as possible; take steps to calm down; and avoid anything that could lead to dangerous spikes in their blood pressures.

Stress is unavoidable because of our busy schedules and lifestyles, but we all can deal with the former by taking the right approach on a daily basis. Because certain hypertension-inducing, heart rate-elevating hormones are released when we are stressed, it is important that we pay attention to the things that push us over the edge and cause us to lose control of our emotions. Emotional stress, apart from inducing hypertension, can also lead to heart disease, diabetes, stomach ulcers and even cancer, so we need to pay special attention to our overall wellbeing, if we are to stay healthy to engage in future political campaigns!

Reading the news on several Web sites that cater to Ghanaians, I get the impression that some people are geared for an “all or nothing” scenario on December 28, 2008, which is not at all helpful for them. So, what happens if their candidate loses? Will they drink or smoke themselves to death? Will they be willing to accept defeat and move on with their lives? Will they relieve themselves of all emotional “clutter” and see victory for the opposing party as the will of the sovereign people of Ghana? These are important questions that all party supporters on both sides of the “aisle” must address now before the election is held, so they can properly deal with their emotions after the Electoral Commission declares the final result!

Election 2008 should not be an “everything or nothing” event for party agents, the very people likely to become highly stressed between now and December 28, 2008. Each person must use common sense to deal with his or her emotions, because life must, honestly, go on after this election. Who wants his or her life cut short because of fanaticism or irrationality or stress? Almost every adult in Ghana has someone – son, daughter, nephew, niece, even a grandparent or two! – dependent on him or her, so we must remember that since there are some whose livelihoods fully depend on us, taking good care of ourselves could not be more crucial! We should campaign for our preferred presidential candidates alright, but let us do so in light of our basic health needs. After all, we need a healthy population to move the nation forward after Round Two of Election 2008!

The writer, Allswell Barnes-Pryce, is a registered nurse with Intermediate Cardiac Care experience. She works for one of Northern Virginia’s most advanced hospital chains.