Stress is a feeling of not being able to cope with demands that come from work, relationships, financial pressures, and other life situations.

It is natural to feel stressed, but if not dealt with, stress can be harmful to you. It can make you an easy target for diseases and even lead to mental health issues such as depression.

One major life event, COVID-19 pandemic, has come with challenges that many of us have never faced, causing more stress and anxiety. Even before the pandemic, some life situations like life changes, work/business issues, financial pressures, relationships, and family issues contributed greatly to feelings of stress.

How do you know that you, or someone close to you is stressed?

We all experience stress in different ways. Many times, we might not even know that what we are going through is stress. If you experience some of these changes, it is likely that you are undergoing stress.


• Loss of interest and pleasure in doing that you enjoyed before
• Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
• Feeling bad about yourself or that you are a failure or that you have let your family down.
• Feeling sluggish or feeling restless, fidgety.
• Thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself in some way.

So, how can you handle stress?
While stress is a natural part of life, it can become dangerous if it is not well managed.
Do not let stress related feelings take control over your life. If you feel stressed and overwhelmed, you are advised to:
1. Exercise
Activities such as running, playing soccer, walking, and dancing, among others will help
to lift your mood and help you to sleep better. Regular exercise also distracts you from
your worries and allows you to forget the negative thoughts that feed stress.

2. Sleep
Sleep reduces stress greatly. Having a regular sleep routine helps to calm you down,
improves your mood and helps you to make better decisions. Specialists recommend
that you sleep for at least 8 hours a night.

Try to get better sleep habits by exercising, taking less alcohol or caffeine (tea/coffee)
when you are about to go to sleep.

3. Healthy Diet
While food cannot completely take away frustration and stress, a healthy and balanced.
diet can boost your mood, lower blood pressure, and build your immune system. There
are foods that get you some stress relief if you include them in your daily diet.
These include foods rich in:
• Vitamin C and minerals - fruits and vegetables
• Proteins such as eggs, meat, and beans.
• Energy giving foods such as maize, wheat and sweet potatoes.


4. Prioritize and list your tasks.
Organize your daily tasks and start with the urgent tasks. At the end of the day, focus on
the tasks you managed to do. This will help you overcome feelings of being stressed and
overwhelmed by your daily activities.

5. Time
Do not get too caught up in the rush of life. Take some time off to relax and do something
you enjoy every day. This will not only strengthen your hobbies but will also give you
something to look forward to.

6. Talk it out/Connect with people that you trust.
Talking and sharing your frustrations can help reduce your stress levels, while spending
time with family and friends can help you to be calm and lowers stress. It is helpful to talk
with others as people could have solutions to what is stressing you. Remember, there
are people who may have gone through similar situations as you. However, if you do not
feel like talking, you can write down your feelings.

7. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Stress may lead to increased temptation to use drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes, and
other substances. While drugs may help temporarily, they cause critical health risks.
Drug abuse also results in addiction, increased levels of stress and serious behavioral
and social consequences.

Be aware of other negative coping habits like over-eating and dangerous relationship
practices such as high-risk sexual behavior that are harmful to your health.



8. Seek professional counselling services:

You should seek help immediately if you have thoughts of harming yourself, feel overwhelmed, feel that you cannot cope or are using alcohol and/or drugs more frequently because of stress.


Watch this video for tips on how to handle stress.


Free counseling services are available for refugees and asylum seekers in Kakuma, Dadaab and those in Nairobi.

If you or a loved one feel like you need to talk to a professional, use the contacts below to get assistance.


  1. Center for Victims of Torture - 0790781359
  2. Danish Refugee Council. You can visit their offices here at PCEA Eastleigh Church or call them on their toll-free number 0800720309 to book an appointment. 
  3. Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK). Located at Haki House, Ndemi Road. Contacts:
      • Counseling support - 0716391412/ 0703820361
      • Support for SGBV cases - 0740739386-
  1. RefuSHE Kenya-Located here.
  2. Kituo cha Sheria. Located here- 0720806531
  3. National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) - 0704873342



1. International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Health Facility Location 
Kapooka Health Center (Main Hospital)Kakuma 1
Lochangamor Dispensary (Clinic 4)Kakuma 1
Hong Kong Dispensary (Clinic 2)Kakuma 1
Nalemsekon Dispensary (Clinic 5)Kakuma 2
Nationakor Dispensary (Clinic 6)Kakuma 3
Ammusait General Hospital Kakuma 4


IRC Mental Health Helpline: 0792067135


 2. Danish Refugee Council (DRC):

Support for children, adults and GBV survivors in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Settlement, Contact: 0800720414.



Service ProviderLocationContacts
Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS)IFO and IFO2 


IRC Main HospitalHagadera0704600513
Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF)Dagahaley0790205727


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