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What is stress? Is stress dangerous?

Stress reaction is basically a completely natural and necessary reaction that is considered harmless. 

Stress can be defined as a state of increased psychological, physiological and behavioral readiness, that is to say the body's own alarm reaction.

Everyone experiences stress in everyday life and it can be about obligations, deadlines etc. Stress can actually be very positive when, for example, we have to perform extra for a short period. All of us have probably felt more sharpened, focused and efficient just before a test, when we have to meet a deadline or the skipper's ceiling just before the whole family is at the door for a birthday celebration.

I often hear that people are more efficient when they have a lot to do. I am also. Activity breeds activity and deadlines keep us focused. Our wonderful body is designed to be able to cope with what we perceive as a threatening situation. If we are chased by tigers, an all-man-to-the-pumps reaction occurs in our body.

  • The stress hormones adrenaline and norepinephrine supply the muscles with energy, so we are ready for battle or can run faster.
  • The stress hormone cortisol works together with adrenaline and plays an important role in our fight or flight response. It is also the one that makes us super focused.
  • New research shows that it is probably osteocalcin, the skeleton's own hormone, that initiates a fight or flight reaction in the body.
  • The hormone vasopressin (ADH) also plays a role and regulates how much water is released through the kidneys and causes the smallest arteries to contract. This is important in case of dehydration and has a certain pain-relieving effect.

After all, the purpose of stress is for us to act when faced with danger and try to eliminate the threat, so our bodies are ingeniously designed for that. At the same time, the capacity and resources in other areas such as immune defense and digestion are reduced and this is a natural priority in a threatening situation.

So what happens when stress lasts far longer than a few minutes and hours, and even months and years?

Physiologically, the body does not know the difference between a real threat and an imagined danger. Examples of imagined danger can be long-term stress at work, feeling inadequate at home or at work, difficulties in relationships, fear, worries, uncertainties in the future, etc. Perhaps you yourself have felt palpitations, sweating and headaches just at the thought of something unpleasant?

The conclusion is that we have an incredible ability to handle short-term stress and threats, but not very good prerequisites for handling long-term stress. If you need help dealing with stress in your life and learning good aids and tools to calm down, you are most welcome to get in touch. 

What are the physical symptoms of stress?

Symptoms of the effects of long-term stress come in many forms, some experience only one thing but that it becomes overwhelming, such as sleep problems or headaches, while others experience several symptoms to a greater or lesser extent. Most people who experience stress and strain over time experience that it affects their physical health and quality of life


Typical physical symptoms of stress can be:

  • Headache
  • Inner turmoil
  • Sleep problems
  • Faster breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders but also in the hips and lower back
  • Exhaustion

If you experience physical symptoms and it is even something you experience daily, then it is a strong signal from your body that you should change something. 

What are the psychological symptoms of prolonged stress?

The physical symptoms of stress are quite well known and everyone can agree that prolonged stress is not good for the body. Something that is talked about far less are the psychological symptoms of long-term stress, which are surely at least as common as the physical ones?

Perhaps it is easier for us to accept that when the body says stop, we have to do something about it. We like to seek out a therapist who will help us and dissolve stiff and painful muscles and joints, and ensure that we get back to exactly the same pattern as before as quickly as possible.  

So what are the psychological symptoms of prolonged stress?

  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory problems
  • Focus on concerns
  • Inability to relax (!)
  • Impaired decision-making power
  • Mood swings
  • Emotionally unstable
  • Frustration
  • Irritation
  • Seclusion
  • Overwhelmed
  • Lack of control
  • Lack of desire to go to work
  • Job dissatisfaction

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