Stress: What does that mean?

Anyone who fears for their jobs or has problems in their relationship runs the risk of becoming ill. Stress is an expression of stress and tension of the whole organism. Stress is widespread in Germany. According to a Forsa study in 2013 with about 1, 000 respondents, almost 6 out of 10 Germans regularly experience stress. Among the 35- to 45-year-olds, there are even 8 out of 10 respondents. Every fifth employee feels overwhelmed by time pressure or exhaustion. No wonder: we live in a meritocracy, in which every time window is filled with new tasks. On the other hand, rest and relaxation phases are permanently neglected. Worryful, considering that happy and well-balanced people are less prone to illness than those suffering from mental distress.

What is stress?

Stress is usually negative for us - we moan about too much of it in everyday life, at work, at leisure. But, strictly speaking, one must distinguish: in "good stress" (Eustress) and negative stress "(Distress)". In stress situations, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are increasingly being produced, blood pressure is rising - the body switches to alarm. A survival advantage for our ancestors to alert in times of danger and fight (or run away quickly).

Stress as a health risk

However, a health risk is stress if it occurs in excess and the tension phases are never defused by relaxing situations. The frequency, variety, duration and personal evaluation of a situation determine what is experienced as (negative) stress. A stressed-out person feels that the situation is overburdening his or her powers and coping skills, does not feel up to it and fears negative consequences. This feeling is perceived as a threat to one's own health, social adaptation or performance.

Stress is thus an imbalance between the inner and outer demands on the person and their ability to respond. Objectively, this imbalance does not have to exist, but the person affected feels it that way.

Stress is everywhere

Many situations can cause stress in the body. B. Existential anxiety, unemployment, loneliness, noise, over or under demanding, sleep deficit, fear of failure, time pressure and strife. A more modern phenomenon is the "fitness stress" - due to the sensitization to our own health, we feel that we have to do something for our well-being in our spare time. We rush from the wellness appointment to the abdominal-leg-butt-training, from the yoga to the running club. And completely forgetting to relax.

Holidays and holidays are high on the hit list of stress situations. Instead of relaxation and joy, we experience hectic and compulsion, instead of enjoying a harmonious get-together, we are plagued by arguments and discussions. Your own expectations and the need for harmony build immense pressure - which leaves us anything but balanced.

How to recognize stress

If stress is constant or returns at short intervals - without adequate rest periods in between - it can make you mentally and physically ill. The following complaints are typical signs:

  • Headache, insomnia
  • heart problems
  • Stomachache, diarrhea
  • allergies
  • Tension or cramps
  • Irritability, nervous restlessness
  • sleep disorders
  • Fatigue to the point of burn out
  • depression

Stress activates organic areas like immune defense, cardiovascular system, musculature or the formation of stomach acid. In the case of permanent activation, this can overstretch the immune system, the vascular system or the gastric mucosa and thus damage it: Constant stress weakens the immune system and can lead to stomach ulcers or high blood pressure. In the worst case, it can lead to diabetes or heart attack. For prolonged complaints should therefore always be consulted the doctor.

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