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Treatment and prevention of stress

Healthy stress occurs when your physical and mental apparatus help you overcome a challenge by maximizing your capability for a short period of time. The fact that your system works that way is a sign of good health.

Unhealthy stress occurs when you maximize the abilities of your mentalt apparatus for a too long – in an attempt to make this level of performance your standard level. That kind of stress is really an internal alarm bell that has gone off to let you know, that it is time to take a closer look at at least parts of your life.

Stress is defined as follows: Stress occurs when a person has the perception that conditions and requirements exceed the person´s own assessment of his/hers skills, competencies, and opportunities.

Following a periode of stress, many people experience that their lives now have more meaning and depth because they have scrutinized their life values and have become better at living out the things that are of real importance to them.

Sometimes, people only become aware of their symptoms of stress when the symptoms have become serious. It is useful to know what the symptoms of stress are so that you can take action quickly.

Typical symptoms of stress:

Mental symptoms

  • Diffuse feeling of not being well
  • Feelings of guilt and inadequacy
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Fatigue, reluctance, a feeling of not being able to cope
  • Depression, low self-esteem
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression
  • Frustration
  • Restlessness
  • Memory loss
  • Learning difficulties

Physical symptoms

  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypertension
  • Restlessness in the body
  • Stomach- and digestive problems
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Frequent infections
  • Tearing up often

Behavioural symptoms

  • Changed eating habits
  • Increased consumption of stimulants, e.g. alcohol, tobacco, caffeine
  • Problems falling asleep
  • Problems sleeping through the night
  • More conflicts
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced sense of humor
  • Problems coping with social life

How stress affects you physiologically

    • Hormone systems in the brain and in the adrenal glands are especially sensitive to mental stress. When you are stressed, the stress hormone cortisol is released from the adrenal glands which affects several physiological processes in the body – among others; heart, veins, lungs, liver, skeletal muscles, and the immune system.
    • Lasting or repeated activation of cortisol can affect other physiological systems, and this increases the risk of physical and mental disorders.
    • Stress also affects the regulation of immunological processes and inflammatory processes. It can have effects on depression, infection, autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis), arteriosclerosis of the heart, and certain types of cancer.
    • If symptoms of stress are not treated in time, you risk getting an exhaustion depression – also called burn-out – and in that case it is much more difficult to recover. It is however often possible, but the prognosis is remarkably poorer and recovery usually takes a long time.

It is not difficult neither to prevent nor to treat stress so effectively that the stress does not reoccur. You only need to know how.

 

I teach stress prevention at Rambøll, MOE, and FRI.
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