“[.] Stress is a physical, mental or emotional factor that causes physical or mental tension.” (Medicine.net). However, stress does not necessarily have to be negative. So stress isn't a bad thing per se, it just depends on how you feel it. The stress of exciting, creative, and successful work is beneficial, while the stress of failure, humiliation, or infection can also be harmful. This is because there are two different types of stress - namely eustress and distress. Eustress is associated with a predominantly pleasant feeling of being able to master certain challenges, to achieve something; this form of stress can even inspire and increase performance. Distress, on the other hand, damages people mentally and physically over the long term through permanent excessive demands.Stress is the body's response to external or internal pressure. The situations and influences that trigger this state are also called stressors. However, the perception of stress and the perception of the feeling is different for every person. Different situations or circumstances are considered stressful for each person - this mostly depends on one's own perception. Nevertheless, there are of course some commonalities among the causes of stress, which probably burden almost everyone here and there. The four most common stressors are finances, relationships, work and changes in one's life situation.But stress is much more than a feeling - it definitely has an impact on our body and thus also on our mental and physical health. The feeling of tension can therefore affect the entire body, our emotions, perception and also our behavior. Too much stress is also noticeable externally - on the one hand through the skin, on the other hand stress can have a negative effect on the heart and intestines, among other things.How does stress affect the skin? Stress can manifest itself in the following skin symptoms: acne, rashes and rosacea. But why is that? The hormones released in stressful situations can cause the skin to produce more oil. This oil, in turn, can clog pores, leading to pimples and breakouts. Immune reactions to stress can also worsen rosacea or skin rashes.What does stress have to do with the heart? Stress causes heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to increase. This is because in stressful situations, the heart beats faster, increasing blood pressure to prepare the body for the situation and circumstance. Conversely, this also means that chronic stress can increase the likelihood and risk of a heart attack.What effects does stress have on the intestines? Perhaps you know this situation: You are about to take an important exam or presentation and suddenly your stomach starts rumbling violently. And that's no coincidence - because there's something to sayings like "that upsets my stomach"! Stress can, for example, lead to diarrhea, flatulence, but also to constipation and at the same time increase the risk of inflammation in the body. This is because certain hormones can affect bowel movements, causing cramps. If these spasms occur evenly throughout the intestines, you are very likely to get diarrhea. However, if your digestive tract spasms in just one spot, it can also lead to constipation. Persistent stress can not only lead to these supposedly harmless symptoms, but has also been scientifically linked to the occurrence of diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome or other chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. By the way, did you know that 80% of the communication between the gut and the brain starts in the gut? It is not without reason that the intestine is also called the "gut brain". Communication takes place via the gut-brain axis. You can find out more HERE. So, this probably all sounds very negative, but we have good news for you too. Because the latest research has been able to show that certain bacteria or bacterial strains - also called psychobiotics - can have a positive influence on the psyche and thus also on the brain. This means that a connection between certain psychological and neurological problems and intestinal disorders has now been recognized.As explained before, other reactions can be caused by stress besides the physical symptoms. If you notice that you are basically irritated or depressed over a longer period of time, an increased, possibly longer-lasting stress level may well be responsible. Do you think a lot and get lost in rumination cycles that not only keep you busy during the day, but also rob you of sleep? It can also be due to too much stress. A change in eating behavior - whether not eating or stuffing yourself can be classified as a stress reaction! In addition to external influences, it is often our own personal thought patterns and attitudes that act as stress accelerators for us. This includes, for example, one's own sense of entitlement, which can only be satisfied with the best results. But the desire to be flawless can also have a negative or stressful effect on the body. The desire for widespread popularity, recognition and friendship can also be a stress factor from the social context. Likewise, the attitude that you have to do all the tasks yourself, that you are not “allowed” or “can” delegate anything - and that you reject offers of support altogether, can immensely increase the stress experience.The four levels of stress:
This level includes short-term events that usually subside spontaneously within a few moments.
This situation is characterized by an acute, prolonged stress reaction as a result of further exposure.
Building on this, in stage three, numerous stress events accumulate over a certain period of time, and vegetative changes can already occur here. This means, for example, an increased heart rate, blood pressure or muscle tone.
The last stage describes a state of chronic and thus health-endangering stress reaction.
How do I best deal with stress? In everyday life, as well as in professional life, it is very important for mental and physical health to develop your own strategies that allow us to relax and calm down. It is essential to find ways to allow yourself sufficient rest and balance in the stressful everyday life of modern life. Any kind of movement in everyday life is suitable for this. This can include a walk during the lunch break, the way to work by bike or on foot, the yoga class in the evening or simply climbing stairs.As already described, however, one's own thinking can also have an immense influence on the perception of stress. There are several ways to counteract this. For example, it can be helpful to reflect on your own unfavorable thought patterns, to question them and to try to gradually change them into something positive. This includes distancing oneself from negative thought cycles, which usually occur in a self-damaging manner in the event of failure - but this requires some practice and perseverance. What can you do to break out of such thought patterns? In this situation, for example, try to visualize what you have already achieved or how similar situations in the past turned out positively.Also a well-structured day, as much exercise as possible in the fresh air, healthy nutrition (nutrition can have a major impact on your stress level - read more HERE!), pleasant company and time with people you can confide in, spiritual impulses, meditation and cultural activities can have a positive effect here.We cannot prescribe which method of stress management is best for you here. However, you should actively deal with this topic in everyday life and develop your strategy for less stress, because the feeling is not only very unpleasant, but also unhealthy. And as we know, it is usually your own head and your own thoughts that make situations stressful. There is a very simple solution for this - conscious breathing.Breathe in, hold, breathe out, repeat.You can find more about stress, mental health and nutrition in our Healthy Guide July and in our special edition, the Healthy Mind Guide .