StressStress is something different for almost everyone! What causes one person considerable stress, another finds a wonderful pleasure. Stress is more than a physical reaction. Read about what happens in the body during stress, the consequences of long-term stress exposure, and how you can reduce and avoid stress.
What is stress?
From a medical point of view, stress is a physical reaction that is intended to make the organism particularly efficient in the short term – and has no pathogenic effects whatsoever. Continuous stress, on the other hand, can cause body. seriously damage the soul. The immune system suffers, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases, and the likelihood of mental illness increases.
Whether stress is perceived as positive or negative is often a matter of evaluation. From a medical and psychological point of view, a balanced alternation of stress or tension and relaxation is conducive to health and performance. New German would mean: Every person would do well to find the work-life balance that suits him or her best. This refers to the individual balance of tension and relaxation. This balance ensures that stress is experienced as positive and not as burdensome.
Positive and negative stress
Whether we experience stress as positive or negative – and thus rather stressful – depends very decisively on the emotional and mental evaluation of stress reactions. Moreover, from what actions we derive from the stress experience. Yet it is perfectly normal that an identical event can cause both positive and negative stress.
An example: you are walking in the park and notice that a large dog is coming towards you wagging its tail. If you are a dog lover, you may be happy and enjoy playing with the dog. If you have been bitten before – perhaps even by a similar-looking dog – you are likely to feel fear and experience a stress reaction that may even spill over into a panic attack. In this sense, the popular saying about positive or negative stress is: A burnt child shies away from the fire.
Conclusion: Whether stress is experienced positively or negatively is essentially a consequence of experience and learned behavior. This realization opens the space to consciously change stress behaviors.
How does a stress reaction proceed? The symptoms of stress are manifold. Affects the entire organism. The stress reaction follows the following pattern.
1. In the preliminary phase, the body abruptly shuts down all metabolic processes to prepare the body for the upcoming activation. We sometimes notice the preliminary phase as a moment of shock – with a corresponding inability to act. 2. In the alarm phase, the body switches over with the help of stress hormones (including adrenaline and noradrenaline) and mobilizes all its energy. The heartbeat accelerates, the muscles are activated, the blood prere rises – the "engine" runs at full speed. 3. In the action phase we become active under stress. In early times, we fled from the proverbial saber-toothed tiger to a tree. Nowadays, even merging a car into moving traffic can be accompanied by a stress response. The stress experience in this case depends on how safe the driver feels in dense city traffic. 4. The recovery phase of the stress reaction is due to exhaustion. The following recovery is characterized. The recovery phase of the stress reaction is characterized by exhaustion. The following recovery. The body normalizes hormone levels. Replenishes the energy reservoirs of the muscles, for example. Thus, the consequences of the stress reaction usually subside quickly. The body switches back to normal mode. However, this changeover sometimes does not occur if we feel under long-term and permanent stress. Then stress can trigger serious physical illnesses. Typical examples of physical illnesses caused by stress are:
– Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood prere, cardiac arrhythmias or heart attacks – Stomach and intestinal problems such as gastritis, stomach ulcers or duodenal ulcers – Digestive problems such as diarrhea, heartburn, headaches such as migraines and tension headaches – viral diseases such as cold sores and shingles – skin diseases such as neurodermatitis and psoriasis, as well as allergies or asthma, can be aggravated by stress. – Previously undiagnosed (but existing) metabolic disorders such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism can also cause symptoms for the first time due to stress.
Stress also harms the soul
Long-term stress that is experienced as a burden not only triggers physical illnesses, but also damages the soul. Examples of mental illnesses caused by stress or illnesses promoted by stress include:
The cause of stress is first of all the physical stress reaction. This stress reaction is largely similar in every person and is biologically determined. Anthropologists and biologists believe that the stress response arose to counter danger.
The main causes of persistent stress are overwork in the family, at work, and during leisure time. It is not so much whether a stress is objectively unmanageable, but rather how the stress and the stress associated with it are experienced individually.
What helps against stress?
There are already hundreds of books and courses on the subject. The following is a brief overview of basic strategies to combat stress and treat stress-related illnesses. And you can read how to reduce stress by learning to perceive the stress experience in a new way.
As a rule, stress cannot be eliminated in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless: There are strategies against stress, which you can acquire effectively with a little attention. 1. Manage your perception of stress. Evaluate negative stress positively or neutrally. Manage the perception of stress in a targeted manner. Evaluate negative stress positively or neutrally. 2. Organize the stresses of work, family and leisure better. 3. Strengthen your own performance. 4. Ensure relaxation as an antipole to stress.
In the following, you will receive suggestions on these 4 areas and later also read how doctors or psychologists can support you in reducing stress.
Whether we experience stress as positive or negative – and thus stressful – is in many cases a question of mental evaluation. Take the example of exam stress. There is a big difference between going into an exam with thoughts of failure and imagining that you have failed – again. The alternative is to admit to yourself that you are worried about the exam. Almost all people experience some anxiety before an exam and get clammy hands, maybe even a sinking feeling in the stomach and the heart beats faster. These are the normal physical symptoms of the stress reaction. Most others feel the same way! And you have no objective reason to find this situation negative or stressful.
If you re-evaluate stress in this way and thus avoid negative stress, you will not only increase your chances of a successful exam. At the same time, you reduce the risk of stress-related illness and gain quality of life. Quite practically, you can write down such situations as mind games on paper. Make a note of the situations in which you experience or fear negative stress. And then keep a written record of how you might evaluate the situation in a positive or neutral way. After a bit of practice, such mind games automatically transfer to real life and help you to re-evaluate stress.
Organizing against stress
Even if you like to act spontaneously or consider the chaos on your desk an expression of endearing individuality: To reduce stress, it's more effective to take an organized approach. You can often do this by
– Describe requirements: What exactly is the problem? – Look for solutions: You experience stress on the beaten path. Therefore, think first and foremost of new solutions. Does this task really need to be done immediately? Do you really have to do it yourself? Or can someone else do it? What actually happens if you do not do it yourself? – Select a solution: Evaluate the solution ideas according to their feasibility and decide on the solution that you consider to be the best – if necessary, after consulting with colleagues, superiors, partners or children. – Make a plan how you will implement the solution: Many small steps also lead to the goal. And do not forget to look around for helpers. – Stick to a plan: Taking an organized approach to stress only works if you don't resume old patterns in between times. – Control: At the end you should check whether the reduction of stress with this solution and this plan succeeds better than before.
Fit against stress
The more efficient you are, the more effective you can be against stress. This is true in the sense of physical fitness. If you don't smoke, drink little alcohol, and eat a fresh and varied diet, you will be more efficient overall – and at the same time less susceptible to infections or other illnesses. Exercise also plays an important role in tackling stress with strength. Numerous studies show that just 3 times 20 minutes of physical activity per week sustainably strengthens the cardiovascular and immune systems. You don't even need to become an athlete: Just ditch the car once in a while and go cycling or walking. Or use the stairs instead of the elevator and walk to your colleague instead of picking up the phone.
Relaxed against stress
Stress often arises when we do not allow ourselves breaks. Therefore, plan breaks into your day to take a relaxed approach to stress. Create small islands for yourself: a quarter of an hour in between that belongs only to you. If you like, you can use the breaks for relaxation techniques. Even better, give autogenic training, breathing exercises, yoga, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation a permanent place in your schedule. However, a lot can be gained if you take breaks – and simply do nothing at all.
You should only feel good.
Therapy for stress-related illnesses
Stress can make you ill. And then it is not always enough just to reduce stress. For treatment of stress-related illnesses, you should consult a doctor -. Do not resort to medication on your own.
In the case of insomnia, for example, sleeping pills can help – but only for a very short time – to regain strength. Serious illnesses such as cardiac arrhythmias or stomach ulcers, for example, usually require longer-term therapy. The same applies to mental illnesses such as burnout or depression, which initially stand in the way of structured self-help against stress.
Basically, medicines are not a remedy for stress. Because you do not eliminate the cause, but only the symptoms. Mild herbal remedies can be effective for a limited period of time to support self-help and medical treatment.
Herbal remedies for stress
St. John's wort, valerian, chamomile, lemon balm, hops, passionflower herb and lavender are said to have a relaxing, calming and harmonizing effect. You can take these herbal ingredients as a tea or tablet, or even use them as a bath additive.
Psychotherapy against stress
For psychotherapy against stress, cognitive behavioral therapy is the method of choice. Together with a therapist, find out how and why you react to certain situations with negative stress. You can then practice new constructive behavioral patterns against stress. Anti-stress therapy is often successful after just a few weeks. And the gain in quality of life through a life with less stress is certainly worth the effort.
Avoid stress with a new attitude
The root of an individual's experience of stress lies – in addition to actual burdens – above all in our own perceptions. And in this perception, all people are oriented to very personal patterns of perception. Therefore, it is not so easy to unmask on your own the patterns that reinforce your personal stress experience.
An example to clarify: Perfectionistically inclined people are particularly at risk of experiencing negative stress. One's own requirements play a special role. If you always set the bar very high, you have to jump very high all the time. And that causes stress. But who sets this bar so high?? And is it really necessary to set the bar so high?. The simple answer is often: No. The bar could also be set much lower. However, perfectionists will usually not come to this insight on their own. They are too used to setting the bar high – and don't even consider that less could even be more. Here's why professional counseling is so valuable in changing perceptions of the stress experience.