Definition of Stress
Stress is defined as an increased strain, an intense physical and / or psychological type of tension. The body’s stress reaction causes one to become ready for action in the shortest period of time. Stress releases a lot of energies which give extraordinary strengths.
What happens during stress?
All of the sense organs focus on the perception of further dangerous situations. The pituitary gland releases increased amounts of stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. Within seconds this results in the “mobilisation” of the body. Pulse rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all increase. The liver releases sugar (glucose) as an energy supplier. Blood clotting increases and circulation in the skin and the digestive organs becomes restricted. The muscles become tense and the nervous system is disrupted.
If one considers the situation of the stone age people then the stress situation was suitable for survival. We are no longer living in the stone age. Nowadays, a human being frequently does not have the possibility of calming down and unloading this energy provided to the body. This leads to a mental overload and nervousness.
The biological opposite of stress is relaxation. Relaxation helps to decrease and calm down the entire system. Relaxation is very individual and personal.
Does stress also have good aspects?
Stress researchers differentiate between positive and negative stress. The difference primarily lies in the person’s attitude.
With positive stress (Eustress) a difficult situation is considered as a positive challenge which needs to be overcome and which can even be enjoyed. You are usually highly motivated and concentrated during positive stress. In these situations, stress is the driving force for success.
With negative stress (Distress) a difficult situation is one that is completely overstraining. You feel like you are at the mercy of a situation beyond your control. It seems like there are no options and no possibilities to change anything. This kind of negative stress can cause illness.
What causes stress?
Stress factors are responsible for stress. Stress factors can be signals or stimuli in the environment (e.g. noise, injuries, arguments, disappointments, pathogens) as well as self-induced problems and being overly self-demanding. Stress can be triggered by positive as well as negative life events. A few examples of stressful, joyful events are weddings, pregnancy, holidays or Christmas. These positive events also force one to adapt to new situations.
Stress shows itslef in a variety of ways.
- Psyche: constant fatigue, difficulties in concentrating, forgetfulness, fear, panic attacks, sleeplessness, anger and moodiness.
- Cardiovascular: escalation in pulse rate, heart palpitation, dizziness, cold hands and feet.
- Muscles: muscle tension, headaches, back pain, shivering, teeth grinding
- Breathing: shortness of breath, sighing often
- Digestion: stomach pains, too much or too little appetite, nausea.
- Fluid balance: sweating, wet hands and feet, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, diarrhoea, constipation
- Immune system: long-lasting cold/flu, frequent infections, allergies
- Unconscious measures to compensate for stress: an increased consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and pills.
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook), Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman , Matthew McKay
Stress Management for Dummies
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen