Stress is omnipresent in today’s world – whether we are at work or pursuing our private interests. Everyone has stress. And even a child in its mother’s womb experiences stress due to the circumstances of its mother – positive as well as negative. But what does stress actually mean? And how do you cope with stress? In this article you will learn about six tips and stress management methods.
Definition of stress
You are already late anyway, then the bus drives away in front of your nose and at work countless mails with urgent to-do’s are waiting for you, while your colleague is urgently waiting for your feedback. Probably everyone of us knows stressful situations in everyday life and wishes from time to time to simply press the “Pause” button.
But how do you define stress? Originally the term stress comes from the field of mechanics and describes the effect of an external force that leads to a deformation or pressure. The Hungarian-Canadian physician and biochemist Hans Selye introduced the term stress into medicine for the first time and is thus regarded as the father of stress research. He provided a rather general definition in which stress is referred to as the “non-specific response of the body to a requirement”.
Stress is basically not negative. There are situations in which it is useful and brings us forward. Because stress-triggering causes (the so-called stressors) put our body in a necessary state of alarm, which mobilizes our energy reserves and makes us ready for attack or flight due to evolution. Within a very short time, the stress hormones cortisol, insulin, adrenalin and noradrenalin are released, the positive impact increases and the muscles become tense.
Necessity of stress
How you react to these stressors is usually subjective: As a passionate surfer, wind and waves give you the adrenaline kick you need to ride the waves with fun and endurance. If you love the beach as a sun worshipper, you may feel the situation threatening or frightening and don’t dare to cool off in the water. The same is true on the plane: while one person enjoys the flight and can doze off in a relaxed manner, the other spends the entire plane with heart palpitations and sweat beads on his forehead and can’t wait to land.
There are also strains that almost everyone finds stressful:
Heat, noise, crowds, mobbing or even contact with people who don’t do you any good are just a few examples.
It is important that each individual tension is followed by a phase of recovery, as permanent stress can seriously damage body and soul. Unfortunately, the built up tension (energy) and the released stress hormones are no longer completely released.
Your body is therefore in a permanent state of alarm, which requires energy and leads to a state of exhaustion in the long term. The consequences can be concentration disorders, exhaustion and digestive disorders. In the worst case, stress can also lead to burnout. For this reason, adequate recovery phases are all the more important.
How can stress be dealt with?
So that you can protect yourself in your everyday life from the health consequences of permanent stress such as burnout, we have listed some simple and effective stress management methods. These should help you to cope with the permanent stress and become more relaxed.
Tip 1: Relaxation
Relaxation helps you to free your head, soul and spirit from stress. It is not for nothing that relaxation methods such as autogenic training and meditation, which focus on yourself and conscious breathing, are becoming more and more popular. However, not everyone can do anything with it (but you should definitely try these methods at least once). If this is the case with you, then also short-term and quickly applicable measures help you to come to rest.
For example, hold your wrists under cold water for a short moment or take a deep breath and then try to breathe consciously for two or three breaths. You can also count backwards from 20 to zero or force yourself to smile for at least 60 seconds. Studies prove that even a false smile or laugh helps to release happiness hormones (the so-called endorphins), so that you feel much more relaxed afterwards.
Tip 2: Sufficient sleep
There are many recommendations for the optimal sleep duration, most studies recommend between 7 and 8 hours. But even here, everyone has to find out his or her own individual sleeping needs. If your eyes close repeatedly throughout the day, you are exhausted and can only stay awake with caffeinated drinks, you should adjust your sleep workload.
Make sure that you only sleep in your bed and don’t distract yourself with other things like the social media (at most with the most beautiful minor matter in the world). Shifting bedtime and getting up can also help you feel more awake in the morning and energized throughout the day.
By the way, it’s proven that you can fall asleep worse if you look at your smartphone just before going to bed. The blue light on the display means that your body produces less of the sleep hormone melatonin and you don’t feel tired. So it’s best to put your mobile phone away half an hour before going to bed at the latest.
Tip 3: Sufficient exercise
We reduce stress not only in relaxation, but also in movement. And sport is most useful if you don’t exaggerate.
Whether strength training in the gym, relaxation techniques such as QiGong and yoga or a simple walk in nature – there are many ways to reduce your stress level by reducing cortisol. It is important that you choose a sport that is fun and suits you. Because if you force yourself to do a sport just because it is fashionable or because others have persuaded you to do it, it will trigger new stress.
Tip 4: Good time management
Even if you may not like to hear it, good time management can save you from a lot of stress. Because if you plan enough time for all to do’s a day and you also have a little buffer for unexpected events, then stress can often not arise in the first place. A structured daily or weekly planning provides you with the necessary framework conditions to be able to cope with unforeseeable, urgent events.