Stress is a reaction of the organism on physical and mental strain. While the so-called acute stress lasts only a couple of minutes up to few hours, stress may become chronical by long-term, permanent strain. Then, the organism is in a permanent alarm state.
Long lasting stress can affect many body areas. Under certain circumstances it can lead to physical diseases or problems like tinnitus, hearing loss, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, head ache, pain in the back, digestion problems, stomach ulcer, increased cholesterol level, stronger pain perception, decreased libido, menstrual disturbances or impotence.
Lasting and recurring stress is also negatively influencing our psyche. But, people concerned tend to ignore this fact for too long. Only when physical disturbances arise stress patients become aware of the problem. The doctor is able to treat the symptoms but is not able to eliminate the causes. On long term, many permanently stressed ones develop depressions or the most famous stress disease: burnout.
In the beginning of the acute stress reaction, adrenalin and noradrenalin are released. These hormones from the adrenal medulla cause – amongst other things – an expansion of the bronchi as well as a rise of the blood pressure and the blood sugar.
In stressful situations, the hormone cortisol is also released in the adrenal cortex. Its effect lasts for several hours. This hormone, too, increases blood pressure and blood sugar. Furthermore, cortisol influences the metabolism of the brain. It keeps the body on alert. DHEA on the other hand dampens the effect of cortisol. It is a so-called opponent and prevents the stress-system from getting out of control.
If no countermeasures take place in permanent stress the body continuously releases cortisol. But, the human body is not aligned to permanent stress. A long lasting increased level of cortisol is not only having a directly harmful effect on organs but is also disturbing the complete interaction of other hormones which enable a regeneration or protect body and psyche. These include amongst others the stress-opponent dopamine, serotonin, melatonin, DHEA and many more.
The effects of a longer lasting increased cortisol level are:
- Negative influence on metabolism and hormonal balance
- Inhibits development and enhances reduction of protein structures (catabolism)
- Weakening of the active and passive motion system
- Redistribution of fat into abdominal fat
- Increased insulin
- Ravenous appetite and supports developing diabetes type II
- Reduction and thus decline of the metabolic rate
- Increased blood pressure and decreased circulation
- Increased risk of infections
- Negative influence on wound healing
Cortisol release depends largely on our lifestyle. Everyday stress, anxiety and sorrows, noise, unnatural artificial light (fluorescent and energy saving lamp), too much sport, lack of peace and relaxation, unhealthy nutrition and lack of sleep support stress reactions of the body. The effect of stress and the subjective sensation are decisive. Healthy people are able to withstand a high load without a respectable rise of the cortisol level. With susceptible persons stress is easily leading into a crisis sometimes even into a breakdown.
To prevent stress from becoming superior phases of tension have to regularly be followed by phases of relaxation. Doing moderate sport is also advisable. Sunlight and bright daylight are very important. Stressed people find the best relaxation in nature. Sunbathing is especially helpful since the radiation of the sun has a very soothing effect. The cortisol level is promptly reduced. Stress makes tired but at the same time prevents good sleeping. Therefore, a high-quality sleep also is an important part of stress management. And, a well-balanced nutrition can enhance stress reduction.
Strengthening of the personal self-perception in job and private life and therewith focusing on individual needs supports minimizing stress resp. not letting it arise at the first place.
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