Stress, the best cure is prevention!

Last week, a patience asked me what stress exactly is. A good question, because almost everybody knows stress can cause for example back and neck pains. But what does stress actually do?

Stress is a healthy reaction to a situation in which you experience pressure or tension. It makes you alert, focused and efficient. Stress can have both positive as well as negative effects. Positive stress enables you to perform better during a game of sports for example. But when stress keeps persisting for a long period of time or when the body has a too intense reaction to a stressful event this can lead to serious problems. Then we speak of unhealthy stress, that causes all kinds of complaints.

In case of a stressful situation our brain makes sure that two systems get activated. First of all the body is being prepared by the sympathetic nervous system. The hormones known as adrenaline and noradrenaline are released and the body goes into ‘fight or flight mode’. Your blood pressure rises, you start to sweat, your heart rate goes up etc. After a few minutes your adrenal gland will start producing cortisol. This is the second system that is being activated. Your blood sugar rises and drives up your metabolism, which releases more energy to deal with the stressful situation.

Negative stress can express itself in four different ways. Think of heart fluttering for example, fatigue (physical), irritation, feeling down (psychic), overeating, isolating from friends (behavioral), lack of creativity, concentration problems (think signals). Some people are more sensitive to stress than others.

Take stress very seriously, because symptoms of stress are often primary warning signals for over-tiredness, depression or burn outs. Make sure you get enough rest and relaxation, learn to say ‘no’ every once in a while, be a bit more kind to yourself, stay positive and try to deal with stress in an active and systematic way. Because this counts for stress as well: prevention is the best cure!

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