What is stress
Stress is the physical reaction we feel in situations that we perceive as threatening. Stress is necessarily unhealthy, in fact people need a certain amount of stress to perform optimally. It puts our body in a state of alertness. This is done through two different channels: the fast channel that increases the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline; and the slow channel that ultimately leads to the production of corticosteroids, including cortisol. The acute stress response, the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, causes increased physical activity and alertness. The production of cortisol causes the blood sugar level and the metabolism to rise in order to mobilize energy. This used to be useful for survival, and today a mild stress response still has benefits.
What are the symptoms of stress?
In the long run, however, stress has negative consequences. High cortisol levels can weaken the immune system and make us more susceptible to disease. Physiological effects such as an increased heart rate and high blood pressure can be harmful to the heart and blood vessels. Long-term stress can also be harmful to the brain, especially in the hippocampus. This area of the brain normally ensures that the production of cortisol is stopped when the body no longer needs it. The increased cortisol level can damage this area and lead to less inhibition, creating a vicious circle. If the damage to the hippocampus continues to progress, this can cause problems with memory (among other things). Stress also causes physical complaints, the most common of which are: increased heart rate or breathing, fatigue, changes in appetite, head or muscle pain; or more severe complaints such as sleep disturbances or dizziness. These complaints can really hinder someone and affect physical and mental well-being.
How can stress be prevented?
Reducing stress presents challenges, as many different aspects of life require time and attention. It can therefore be difficult to let go of stressful thoughts. One option is to set priorities and take a critical look at which aspects may be less important and can be dealt with later. In addition, it is possible to reflect on the way in which stress is dealt with in general and the reactions it causes. Sometimes, the stress response is disproportionate to the situation and that can be counterproductive. By practicing you can learn to react differently and deal with stress more effectively. This is difficult to do on your own, however, especially when the stress level is already high. It can help to talk to people that are close to you and ask for support, sometimes just talking about it can provide relief.
When can stress coaching be used?
Another possible step is stress coaching, which can help people to better deal with the stress they experience. This is not necessarily about removing the stressors, but more about learning to deal with them better. First of all, it is important to learn to recognize stressors. Then, the coping style (the reaction to the stressors) can be adjusted and the stressor can be handled more effectively. Stress coaching can also help to better manage exposure to certain stressors or to learn effective ways to relax. With the help of a stress coach you can learn to change the way you look at things that are stressful.
What should be taken into account?
Stress should be handled with caution as it can escalate quite easily. If you’re bothered by stress, it should be taken seriously. Stress is the main reason that people miss work and it’s also a growing problem among students. Initially, it’s good to ask for support from people around you but sometimes professional help may be necessary. If you have symptoms of depression or anxiety, it may be advisable to see a doctor. A certified coach can help you develop new coping styles and learn to deal with stress. The coaches in the Gingermood community are all certified and matched to your personality and preferences.