Stress is an omnipresent phenomenon. Whether at work, in the family or during leisure time, stressful situations can occur in any environment. These situations create pressure and their effects have a direct impact on your well-being and in the medium to long term on your health.
In general, many people assume that stress is a purely modern phenomenon, a result of our way of life and the fast-moving modern world. There is a connection, but this statement is not quite correct, because even in earlier times there were stress triggers: for example, the pressure of daily food procurement, threats from disease, war, fear for the future or for the integrity of one’s own family.
The term stress comes from the Latin word “distringere”, which means “to claim” or also “to constrict”. Stress is then defined as a reaction of the body or mind that is triggered by the demands of certain situations. The reactions can be varied and even differ from person to person, but almost always so-called “stress hormones” are involved.
What also differs is the triggering situation and the level of stress a person can cope with. Depending on the degree of health, predisposition, age or well-being, a person may perceive a given situation as being stressful, while another person perceives the exact same situation as being completely unstressful.
Stress can manifest itself physically in different ways:
Scientific studies and research and numerous surveys suggest that we must distinguish between two types of stress: short-term stress, which can have positive effects, and long-term stress, which in the long run can damage our organism.
We all know short-term stress in the form of adrenaline rushes. Be it in extreme sports or in dicey situations – short-term stress can drive us to peak performance, release undreamt-of energy and after surviving the stress situation, a feeling of satisfaction and sometimes even happiness arises.
However, long-term stress, which is mainly caused by our way of life, is particularly damaging. When we talk about stress today, we mean pressure to meet deadlines and perform, stress at work, conflicts with other people, emotional burdens, burdens due to financial obligations or multiple burdens due to family and job. Our body reacts to this high level of stress by releasing the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, thus preparing for an assumed peak physical performance. This alone is not a problem. The problems are caused by the fact that there is no immediate relaxation following the stress trigger and we therefore often remain in this state for a long time, even if the original stress trigger no longer exists. This is in contrast to bungee jumping, for example, where after a short, violent stress hormone surge, the immediate relaxation after the jump also causes these hormones to dissipate again.
Persistent stress can develop into physical complaints in the long term: High blood pressure, digestive problems , irritable bowel syndrome or peptic ulcers, muscle tension, palpitations, pain, sleep and concentration disorders. The immune system is also often affected by permanent stress.
Chewing gum, hugging or playing and reading are distractions that have similar effects.
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