How to recognize stress and to achieve stress relief

When we’re stressed, our body and mind find themselves in a temporary state of high-performance. However, persistent stress can make you ill. We’ll show you how to recognize stress symptoms and how to manage stress by getting organized at work, exercising, and other tips.

What is stress?

In tense situations, stress makes us release hormones and drives us to unexpectedly high levels of exertion. Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with stress. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline boost our performance at work and in everyday life, like in sports competitions. When this positive stress (also called eustress) moves into a calmer, more relaxed phase, the body has time to regenerate for new challenges.

But when stressful situations accumulate, things can become problematic. For example, when you’ve got many tasks to get through at work, when deadlines are set at short notice, and/or when faced with critical situations with customers, colleagues, and superiors.

This negative stress, called distress, triggers the feeling that is often described as “being stressed.” You constantly feel on edge and like you can’t cope with upcoming tasks. In many cases the fatal consequence is chronic stress, which poses a number of potential dangers to your health.

What are the most common stress symptoms?

Symptoms of stress can become physically noticeable, for example through headaches or bad sleep. Grinding teeth or sweating are also signs that the body is under stress.

Signs of psychological stress include restlessness, tension, constant nervousness, or poor concentration. Many stressed people also suffer from eating disorders, which manifests itself in food cravings, in a lack of appetite, or high blood pressure.

What are common causes of stress?

Causes of stress vary greatly from person to person. Anything from fears about the future, pressure to perform at work, a strained relationship with colleagues or superiors can result in stress.

Especially when you’ve got many tasks piling up, it can help to address your workload with your manager. Saying no at work often isn’t easy, but it tells others what your limits are.

Social media has brought about another kind of stress: fear of missing out, or FOMO for short, speaks to the permanent pressure to be online and not miss out on anything that friends and family are experiencing.

Usually, it’s not just one thing that causes stress but a handful of factors that, over a longer period, gradually lead to an imbalance that can result in chronic stress.

What are the consequences of constant stress?

If stress is repeatedly acute over a longer period, it will eventually become chronic. Without stress management, stress symptoms won’t just be visible in stressful situations, but will constantly affect your body and psyche.

After a while, the permanent state of chronic stress intensifies previously occurring symptoms, since the hormone balance also gradually tips due to the permanent state of alarm in the body.

And there are far-reaching consequences. Various diseases are more likely to occur because of stress, for example, the probability of suffering hearing loss or tinnitus increases. Since the body draws on its own nutrients and muscles under permanent stress and can’t keep up with stocking up on resources, an increase in fat and a decrease in muscle mass are also often the result of constant stress.

Victims of chronic stress often suffer from burnout, depression, or exhaustion, as well as an increased risk of heart attack.

What are the forms of stress relief?

To reduce stress, the root causes of your stress should be prevented, and measures should be taken to alleviate the consequences.

Stress management should focus on balancing your metabolism and at the same time both protect and strengthen the nerves. On the job, measures to avoid stressful situations are also very useful.

Prioritize work, organize processes, and avoid multitasking

To avoid stress at work, it’s important to clearly structure your pending work. Which tasks should be prioritized, what can be pushed for later? Listing your work with deadlines often helps.

You can also try setting dedicated time windows in which you tackle a specific task in a concentrated manner. During concentrated work phases, chats and mobile devices are set to “do not disturb.” This will help you focus on the essentials while distractions are kept to a minimum.

Healthy food as a basis

A balanced diet and plenty of water are an integral part of the day when working in the office or from home, helping the nerves cope with stress.

Whole-grain ingredients and legumes, such as lentils, are a great basis, while vegetables, fruit and nuts supplement the diet. Too many sugary or fatty foods and soft drinks should be avoided.

Exercises to relax muscles and boost concentration

Sitting in front of the computer for hours on end leads to tension. Even short relaxation exercises at the coffee machine or at the desk can help with this. Massaging muscles in the neck, back, or legs not only releases tension but also provides moments of respite.

Regular exercises at work can provide new energy and short moments to relax.

Plenty of sleep and limited screentime

During stressful phases, it’s important that you get enough sleep to give your body the time to recharge overnight. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. But a regular rhythm for when you go to bed and wind-down rituals can help set you up for a good night’s sleep.

Before going to bed, it’s best to avoid activities that include your phone or television. Especially social media’s information overload has been documented to be a common trigger for constant tension.

A relaxing bath, reading a book, or noting down your day’s experiences can help you slow down and unwind for the day.

Make time for hobbies and sports

If you want to be top of your game at work, then you need to make time for rest and relaxation. Here, individual needs vary greatly. A balanced sport regimen like yoga, swimming, or jogging, but also creative hobbies like sewing or cooking serve to shift your focus and bring consistency and calm to everyday life. The goal here is to ensure a healthy work-life balance.

Summary: recognize stress symptoms early and adjust habits

In most jobs you’ll be met with stressful situations, one way or another. To stay ahead of stress, it helps to tackle tasks in a structured and thoughtful way. Prioritizing can help you find your focus to get through the day. In addition, don’t forget to take time out to relax as well as for activities and hobbies. A balanced diet will also help support overall mental and physical well-being.

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