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Stress, our common enemy?

Published on 10 June 2021 at 11:14

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

 

I just entered the word „stress” in Google. The result? 1.240.000.000 different pages that include this word. So shall I add yet another article on this topic when there is so much written about it already? I will because I know way too many people that are experiencing one or more health issues because of stress.  

 

So you know the word „stress”. Have you heard about „eustress” and „distress” as well?

For a long time, I thought stress can only be associated with negative events. Then I heard about eu-stress, or in other words, good stress. It is not something we need to worry about and we all have experienced it before. Some examples would be starting at a new company or in a new role, buying a new house, or preparing for a vacation.

But this is not the stress that I am going to write about now. Distress or bad stress is the one that can make our lives a bit more complicated. Everyone is different. Some people seem to be resistant to it and have developed tactics or techniques that help them over stressful situations easily. Many others experience it regularly and for a variety of reasons. 

 

What can be possible triggers of stress? 

It is impossible to list all the reasons, some of them being rational, while others totally irrational. So I only picked two relevant  areas for now:

  • Some jobs are so demanding that even if you work at 150% at all times, you feel that it is not enough. You may be expected to stay until late in the evening, work on the weekend, be available at all times to share your input, prepare a presentation from scratch in no time, continuously deal with challenging customers and the list continues. The work pressure can come from outside (e.g.your manager or your clients), but it can also come from the thought of „am I good enough”, „will I be accepted as I am”?
  • Another relevant topic is the pandemic that has brought major changes to our lives. Change, in general, can be the reason for stress or anxiety, but even more so when a change is unwanted and we have no idea when or how it will end. The pandemic has impacted us on different levels: loved ones getting sick, kids staying home for a longer period of time, working from home all the time (for some, a paradise; for others not that much), businesses going bankrupt because of restrictions... 

 

Women struggle more often with stress symptoms 

Interestingly, women are more impacted by stress than men. When men face a stressful situation, they seem to accept the situation easier. Women often tend to think that they have to do perfectly in all areas of life: at work, at home, with friends and family, etc. Also, they may not want to go into confrontations but tend to swallow their feelings. But feelings that are not expressed, will find different ways to come to the surface.

 

Acting on time is key

When you experience stress, you will go through different stages:

 

Stage 1: Acute stress reaction

This happens immediately after facing a threatening situation and includes both physical (e.g. sweating, faster heart rate, dizziness) and mental consequences (it gets really difficult to think clearly). Large amounts of adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body. 

 

Stage 2: Long-term stress reaction

When a stressful situation persists for longer than 6 weeks, the cortisol levels stay permanently high and real damage is caused to the body. Diverse physical, emotional, and behavioral complaints can appear (see in the next section), so it is very important to recognize these symptoms and seek help to avoid entering the next stage.

 

Stage 3: Adrenal exhaustion

This is when the body is unable to handle any further stress, all reserves are depleted and cortisol levels drop because the adrenals are fully exhausted. At this stage, the immune system is severely impacted, and so the frequency of getting sick increases. Also, chronic fatigue and burnout belong to the possible consequences. It takes much longer to recover from stage 3, hence acting on time is key!

 

Because long-term stress has countless unwanted effects

The effects can be grouped into 3 different areas:

  • Physical effects: Headache, dizziness, sweating, high blood pressure, low energy levels, insomnia, frequent colds, upset stomach, etc. 
  • Emotional effects: Irritation, frustration, apathy, anxiety, depression, feeling overwhelmed, etc.
  • Behavioral effects: Changing eating patterns (eating too much or too little, preferring snacks and sweets), concentration problems, poor memory, indecisiveness, mood swings, inflexibility, compulsive behavior, etc.

 

Stress can be addressed in a variety of ways, including reflexology treatment

A lot of stress can be reduced via reflexology treatments. It focuses on calming the zones of the feet that are linked to our hormonal system, including the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenals (also called the HPA-axis or central stress response system).

Did you know that some clients feel more tired after their first reflexology treatment? Their body finally recognizes how exhausted they really are. That’s not a bad thing. After a little time, they will start feeling more energetic and fresh again and the body can start recovering.

Would you like to try some tips when in a stressful situation? Click on this Instagram post and feel free to follow me. I regularly share interesting and/or useful information on topics that are linked to reflexology.

 

If you feel it is time to address your stress symptoms, and have not considered reflexology before, make an appointment for a first session to see how I can help.

 

Please note: In case you experience overwhelming stress symptoms for a longer period of time, consider professional help with complementary therapy as an additional tool to support you.


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