How to avoid harmful stress

What is stress? A simple definition of stress is “a physical reaction that helps us survive”. You don’t have to experience stress as something bad but even positive stress can have a negative effect on your body.

When we experience physical or mental stress, the body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode. The sympathetic part of the nervous system takes over to prepare us for action. Various hormones and chemicals are released, heart rate and blood pressure increase, heart rate variability decreases and blood flow is directed to where it is most needed, such as the muscles.

Why do we feel stress?

A stress reaction can be caused by internal factors such as overload, fatigue, pain or fever but also external factors such as alcohol, physical workload or heat. The reaction can also be caused by psychological or social stressors such as anxiety, fear, pressure or work-related stress. Stress is a natural part of life, but it needs to be managed properly.

Stress can make us more productive

Your own perception of stress can be positive. As well as the context in which you experience it. For example, an exciting new challenge! However, even positive stress can have a negative effect on the body, for example if you have a long period of excessive pace at work or excessive demands.

The acute reaction to all types of stress is basically the same. However, the after-effects vary. An appropriate level of stress is linked to higher productivity and better performance. If stress levels are too high for a long time, performance suffers.

Pay attention to your own stress level

Do you tend to be spurred on by the constant adrenaline rush of positive stress? Do you feel like you hardly need to sleep because you are so positively charged? Keep in mind that stress takes its toll on the body in the long run. The negative health effects of chronic stress have been demonstrated in numerous research studies. Anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep disorders, memory impairment and poor concentration are all consequences linked to long-term activation of the stress response system.

"If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry.

If there is no solution to the problem, there is no point in worrying."

Dalai Lama

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