Relieve stress - 7 tips to combat stress

from Mag. Margit Weichselbraun
on 28.10.2022
Relieve stress - 7 tips to combat stress Relieve stress - 7 tips to combat stress

Stress is not merely a descriptor of our society, but a well-perceived truth. According to a study, 75% of all German professionals are under stress ranging from sometimes to often. But what exactly is stress, what causes it and what strategies are there to control it?

What is stress? And how can stress be reduced or even avoided?

The term stress was defined by the father of modern stress research, Hungarian-Canadian physician, Hans Selye. Selye defined stress as a “non-specific reaction of the body, whereby it reacts to its environment and to the demands placed on it”. Demands are not intrinsically bad in themselves. They can motivate us to achieve excellence and allow us to grow. An absolutely stress-free and demand-free life is therefore undesirable. We would lack the spice of life in the form of positive stress (eustress), the inner drive and the breeding ground for personal growth and successful experiences.

"Life is like cycling: To keep your balance, you have to keep moving.“
- Albert Einstein

When does stress become a problem?

So, if stress is the spice of life, why do so many people noticeably suffer from stress and its consequences? As with many things in life, it also depends on the dose in terms of stress. While short-term stress is definitely a spur (e.g. in challenging situations), the urgently required recovery phases are lacking in the case of permanent stress. If an external or internal stimulus is perceived as unpleasant or if you feel that you are not able to cope with a certain requirement, this is stress in its negative form (distress), which can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. It is not for nothing that we say: "I feel stress in my stomach", "I could tear my hair out" or "I’ll have to digest that first".

Typical symptoms of chronic stress:

  • Restlessness, tension
  • Tenseness
  • Irritability, anger
  • Mood swings, bad mood
  • Exhaustion
  • Concentration problems
  • Fears
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Tension, tension headaches
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The stress reaction: Survival programme in times of the performance society

Stress is not a novel phenomenon. Even in the days of early man, our inherent protective mechanism trained us for survival in hazardous and stressful situations. However, our ancestors were facing life and death situations, whereas it is other things that are stressful today – financial concerns, deadlines or fears of failure. However, the survival programme still runs according to the same rules both in the past and now: If a stress factor (stressor) affects the body, stress hormones are released and the entire organism is mobilised to fight the "dangerous threat". While systems that are not necessary in the short term – such as libido, immune system or digestion – can be shut down, other systems are brought into fight or flight mode: Breathing speeds up, pulse and blood pressure increase, muscle tone and blood flow increase, while the blood clots faster in preparation for possible injuries.

Does all stress feel the same?

While the physiological stress reactions are the same in every person, each form of stress is perceived differently. Where some people might say: "I can't take any more!", people with high stress resilience stand firm. These people are able to cope with even severe stress and recover comparatively quickly from the negative consequences.

Causes of stress: What triggers stress?

Even though each of us has a different perception of stress, there are still certain stressors that send the stress hormones skyrocketing in most of us. Typical stressors include:

  • Conflicts in the professional or private environment
  • Deadlines and performance pressure
  • Multitasking
  • A flood of information and the need to be constantly available
  • The dual burden of work and family
  • Perfectionism
  • Disease or deaths in the family
  • Divorce or separation
  • Loss of job
  • (Future) fears or worries
  • Lack of work/life balance, little free time
  • Stimulus overload
  • An unhealthy lifestyle

What helps against stress? 7tips for stress management

Nowadays, many of us are under stress, which we can neither fight nor avoid. It is precisely this often intangible permanent stress that people need to fight for the sake of their health. The following seven stress management strategies can help.

1.      Micronutrients: natural resistance to stress.

The metabolism of people who feel jaded is not – as often believed – on the back burner but actually running at top speed. This hyperactivity increases the need for vitamins and minerals and increases the formation of radicals in the bodyUnfortunately, when we are under pressure we often neglect nutrient-rich foodstuffs and reach for easily available junk food. But only those who are well nourished can successfully resist stress and stressful situations. And more! Selected micronutrients and plant extracts can – when used in a targeted manner – help you to keep a cool head when under constant stress.

2.       Sleep: the relaxation formula against stress. 

Everyone is familiar with the feeling that their nerves are on edge after a sleepless night and that their concentration is at an all-time low. Sleep is not only important for strong nerves and a razor-sharp mind, it is also essential for mental health, stress processing and a person’s adaptability and learning ability. While children can often fall asleep after a glass of milk with honey, adults can encourage sleep with special plant extracts and vital substances.

3.      Digital detox: soothing radio silence.

Sound familiar? A quick look at your mobile phone turns into a digital world trip – and it’s almost midnight again. According to one study, we check our mobile phones 150 times a day on average. However, this never-ending digital data stream can end up becoming stressful. A new "fasting trend", known as a "digital detox", is now recommended, during which tablet, mobile phone, etc. are deliberately put aside for a certain period of time. Digital detoxification should de-stress and help to increase awareness of life around you.

4.       Sports: Stress killer no. 1.  

In principle, it is our nature to react to stress with exercise (flight or fight reaction). But nowadays we literally “sit” on our stress, or bottle it up. Time to rethink and become active! People who exercise moderately (especially endurance sports), offer the body a release valve for getting rid of stress hormones. In addition, sport gives us a healthy burst of happiness hormones as well as better physical and mental resilience – which affects us in all the different areas of life.

5.     The green pill – an underestimated secret weapon.

Water splashing, birds chirping, rustling leaves. Where can you relax better than in the lap of Mother Nature? If you get out into nature for 20-30 minutes three times a week, you can successfully reduce stress. Forest bathing is particularly popular: Under the protection of giant trees, stress and the problems of everyday life fade into the background for a little while. The fresh air has an effect on mental well-being and cells and organs have time to regenerate

6.       5 minutes of self-care daily – minimum!

A warm cup of tea with relaxing music, a soothing bubble bath by candlelight, a little meditation for a sense of well-being – there are wonderful ways to show yourself love and care that you can treat yourself to every day and which will help to keep your stress hormones in check.

7.       If life gives you lemons, make lemonade😉.

Regardless of what life throws at you, you can deal with it better if you accept it with open arms. According to many studies, people with a positive attitude towards life have an easier time and promote their health and well-being. The good news: Positive thinking can be learned and become a personal game changer. People who concentrate on their own strengths, who avoid comparisons and use the power of laughter are well on the way to a more positive and relaxed life.

How long does it take to reduce stress?

The process of relaxation is as individual as the way in which every person perceives stress and deals with it. Several factors play a role in relaxation and stress reduction – including the extent of the stress burden, individual stress resilience, mental attitude and the chosen coping strategy. The fact is that we should regularly and actively seek relaxation to ensure a healthy switch between tension and relaxation. Since stress hormones have a physical and mental effect, stress reduction can take several weeks, especially after severe stress exposure.

Literature with the author.
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