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Wellnessproducts > Massage & Relaxation

Recognizing and avoiding stress

Everybody has encountered at least one stressful situation in his or her life. Stress has many faces, meaning that the consequences of stress can also vary. Even after knowing stress, sometimes it is not easy to realize that the next stressful situation is already waiting around the corner.

Stress is something we carry in our body as a response to certain triggers. Certain situations cause anxiety or panic, causing the body to react with a stress response that would originally ensure our survival. In stressful situations, the body releases adrenaline, which helps us to react faster and more efficiently. But, in the end, we pay a high price for that, which is evident when you expose your body to a constant stress. Nowadays, the triggers may have changed, but the reaction of the body is more or less the same.

It is the same experience for many of us: facing extreme deadlines or a mountain of work, when we do not even know where to start, or we just want to escape. Our body considers the situation as dangerous and prepares itself for flight or fight. How often do we rush and risk our lives running through the traffic or jumping into the metro at the very last second? We forget that it is 'only' an appointment, that we do not want to miss, and not a life-threatening enemy who is pursuing us. Our new enemy may be called the "pressure to perform". If we do not submit to it and if we are unable to perform our duties, we fear dismissal, unemployment or the end of the desired career. The bad thing is that our body cannot really escape or struggle in all these situations. Therefore, tension builds up in the body and leaves clear traces, making it even more important to cope with stress on time and to avoid it, wherever possible, to preserve our health.

How does stress affect health?

Stress affects the body both mentally and physically. The negative effect of distributed stress hormones can lead to heart disease, tensions in the neck and shoulder area, and subsequently to headaches and back pain. Since the immune system also suffers from too much stress, the body is more susceptible to infectious diseases. Stress can also affect the stomach and when you do not take the time to eat slowly or healthy at all, you are risking gastritis and stomach ulcers. If an increased amount of adrenaline keeps rushing into the blood, it can cause damage to the blood vessels. Stress can also lead you to take an increased amount of sedatives or sleeping pills, stimulants or caffeine, which have a negative effect on the body. Sleeping problems can lead to despair and depression. People who are under heavy stress are also at risk to get involved into accidents much easier.

Knowing these consequences, everybody would intend to do everything possible to avoid stress. If it seems impossible to change something about the external triggers, you may start with your own body. Try to observe the stress response of your body and to control these processes in your mind. Learn to recognize stress triggers in time! For example, if you are already under deadline pressure, do not answer the phone call from a friend, who just wanted to briefly say 'hello'. Or do not write another e-mail because there are two minutes left till the meeting starts. A lot can happen in two minutes: something else can come in between and cause sudden stress. And perhaps you miss the only two precious minutes that you get on that day for a short relaxation. Decide to put the highest priority on your health situation rather than to increase your stress levels over work.

Another tip is to incorporate periods of relaxation, whenever the opportunity arises. While waiting for the bus you can easily do some breathing exercises which relax the mind. Let your thoughts travel to imaginations that will bring you comfort and relaxation. Listen to relaxing music. There are also many types of relaxation exercises that you can practise without much effort or resources - even before bedtime. They include autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and Pilates. Regular exercise also helps: inhaling and exhaling in a relaxed way while walking affects your body positively on a physical and mental level.
Published on 17.09. by Thomas Toernell
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