The extent that stress can reach is mostly underestimated these days. After all, everyone comes into contact with acute stress at some point. However, if the stress persists for a longer period of time, it can have serious consequences.
In this article, we have described exactly what you need to know about stress and how you can best reduce stress.
the essentials in brief
- Stress is triggered by the brain when more work or pressure to perform is expected than you can handle in the time allotted.
- Stress can trigger many symptoms. from gastrointestinal problems to cardiac arrhythmias. Acute stress also strengthens your defenses against infections and allows you to work more efficiently.
- You should tackle the reduction of stress as soon as possible in order to prevent serious illnesses and the consequences of stress. You can achieve this with exercise and the right diet, but also with professional help.
Definition: what is stress?
Stress is a psychological strain that occurs in the brain. For the given requirement, which can come from the outside but also from the inside, there is not enough power or time. This dichotomy means stress.
Background: What you should know about stress
Before you read our tips against stress, we would first like to explain to you what it is important to know about stress. We have listed and explained these important facts for you below.
What types of stress are there?
There are two types of stress. Acute or chronic stress. Acute stress means you only feel stress for a short period of time. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is felt over a longer period of time and produces significantly more symptoms.
A distinction is also made between positive (eustress) and negative stress (distress) (1).
How is stress expressed?
Stress can cause many symptoms. We have written down these symptoms for you in the following table and also described how these symptoms manifest themselves.
|heart and circulatory problems||High blood pressure, dizziness, tachycardia and difficulty breathing|
|Pains||In the head, neck, back and joints|
|Gastrointestinal Diseases||diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn.|
|mental limitations||Difficulty concentrating, lack of drive, irritability, anxiety attacks and burnout|
Chronic stress can also trigger serious diseases such as diabetes. The stress on the heart can lead to a heart attack or cardiac arrhythmias.
It can take several months to get out of a burnout with professional help. (Image Source: Nik Shuliahin / unsplash)
Acute stress can also have positive effects. If the stress is short-lived, it protects you from infections because the body's defenses are strengthened (2). This is also the reason why many people get sick in the beginning of vacation. The performance also increases. The body tries to cope with the stressful situation with all its strength.
However, if the stress lasts longer and becomes chronic stress, these positive effects are lost and turn negative. Because the body cannot sustain this performance for a long time.
How does stress arise?
Stress occurs primarily in the brain, as the brain assesses a situation. If a lot is expected of you within a very short time, then the brain will evaluate this situation as stress and will release adrenaline and stress hormones to cope with this situation.
A situation is usually perceived as stressful when only little time is available and a great performance is expected. Sometimes these don't even have to be external guidelines or restrictions, but also some that you set yourself. This means that you can put yourself in such a stressful situation.
When does stress become dangerous?
Stress can become dangerous very quickly. The extent of the symptoms or developing diseases varies from person to person. If you suffer from several symptoms or if they are severe, you should consult your doctor. Because many or strong symptoms can be a sign of a serious illness.
Many people underestimate the impact of stress on the body.
Nevertheless, it is important to keep an eye on your physical and mental health when you are stressed and to react quickly if one of them is no longer correct.
What is positive stress?
Positive stress is usually perceived as pleasant because it is a kind of anticipation. For example, you are looking forward to your first day of school or work or you have been seeing an old friend for a long time. You feel stress because anticipation usually mixes with fear. You want to make a good impression, especially on your first day at work, but you are still looking forward to a new chapter in your life.
Acute stress causes you to be more productive. You may have noticed this when you couldn't fall asleep at bedtime and ended up only getting a few hours of sleep. Nevertheless, you were very fit in the morning.
How does stress affect the brain?
The brain is one of the most important organs when it comes to stress. It decides what is done to avoid the stress. In the short term, the brain makes the body work harder and increases its resistance to infection.
However, over time, the whole body changes to deal with this stress. The brain is also affected. Changes were found in several parts of the brain (3). Such changes must be combated with drugs to prevent further diseases.
Reduce stress: The best tips & tricks for a stress-free everyday life
We have put together a few useful tips and tricks so that you can enjoy your everyday life stress-free again. We have written down these tips and tricks for you below and described them in more detail.
Relieve stress with home remedies
You can easily fight stress from home. Below we have listed the most common ways you can reduce stress.
One of the most proven methods is exercise. Sport lets you take your mind off things and gives your brain a little rest and a break from stress.
When you're stressed, you probably don't feel physically or mentally able to go jogging outside. But once you're active, you'll quickly forget the stress.
If you are not very athletic in general, you can also do simple yoga exercises. This is enough of a strain on your body and your brain can focus on something other than the stress.
Exercising distracts the brain and gives your body new strength to fight against stress. (Image source: Tomasz Woźniak / unsplash)
With a healthy diet and the right vitamins, you can eliminate stress. You should therefore strive for a varied diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. Important vitamins are B, E and C. Otherwise lots of potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper. We have listed the best foods below.
- Nuts, seeds and kernels: Nuts, seeds and kernels are the perfect nerve food. You can eat them between different meals. They contain several vitamins, as well as potassium and magnesium. A good serving is around 25 grams.
- Vegetables: Of course, vegetables should not be missing. Especially green vegetables like broccoli, beans and avocado offer you many nutrients that help with stress. In addition to nuts, these vegetables also provide iron, which supports memory.
- Bananas: Bananas are not only delicious, they also form a happy hormone in the body. In addition to that, the banana also contains several vitamins such as potassium and magnesium.
- Dark chocolate: Like the banana, the cocoa in chocolate forms a happy hormone in the body. In addition, chocolate protects you from cardiovascular diseases. It is important that you use dark chocolate and not white or milk chocolate, as the cocoa content is too low.
- Oat flakes: Oat flakes also form a happy hormone and also offer plenty of vitamins B1 and B3. So you start your day perfectly with a bowl full of oatmeal. Since they are also very nourishing, you won't feel hungry all morning either.
- Legumes: Legumes are a must on a vegetarian diet as they provide many nutrients. These nutrients also help with stress. They contain potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
- Meat: Beef offers a lot of B vitamins. In addition, it contains a lot of protein, iron and magnesium. This ensures that you are less exhausted.
So if you eat a varied diet and pay attention to the right foods, you can curb the stress.
There are several exercises you can do at home to reduce stress. In the table below, we have listed these exercises for you and explain what you have to do exactly.
|breathing exercise||If you take time out to breathe deeply once a week, your condition will improve (4). A good breathing exercise is the 4-6-8 exercise. You breathe in through your nose for four seconds, then hold your breath for six seconds, and finally breathe out for eight seconds. You can repeat this up to five times.|
|move face||There are several ways you can move your face to make you happier. It usually helps if you look in the mirror and just smile. Because laughter creates a happiness hormone. But sometimes it also helps if you grimace even more than when you smile. You can just make faces for that. The face relaxes and the grimaces, like laughing, ensure the emergence of a happiness hormone.|
|meditation||Meditation relaxes your body and takes your mind off stress. So that you know what such a meditation looks like, we have linked a video below that will lead you into a relaxed mood within 10 minutes.|
Sometimes it just helps to take several breaks a day. So plan your breaks and don't let that discourage you from taking them. If you can't treat yourself to these breaks, your stress will hardly decrease. It's best to set an alarm clock so you don't forget to take a break. If possible, you should interrupt your work at this point and take this time off.
After the break, you will be able to do your work much better and faster and you will also feel less stress than if you work through it.
Relieve stress with professional help
If home remedies don't help to reduce stress, professional help can be a solution.
There are several places you can go to deal with chronic stress. During therapy, attempts are made to minimize stress and prevent burnout. Therefore, try to get help early enough so that burnout does not occur beforehand.
Stress is a part of everyday life for many people. For a short time, stress also has positive effects such as increased resistance to infection. Long-term stress, however, can have serious consequences.
Sporting activities and the right diet help to combat stress. But breathing exercises, meditation or making faces can also reduce stress. If you don't know what to do anymore and can't get out of the stress, professional help can also be the solution.
- There is good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress).
- Acute stress strengthens the defense against infections.
- Stress can trigger several diseases. Prolonged stress changes the body. In the brain, the areas of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex are changed. This not only shortens the length of life, but also the quality of life. Such a burden must be combated with drugs.
- The study researched a relaxation technique on volunteers. The relaxation technique is a deep breathing exercise.