Stress, let go

The word stress comes from English and in the original sense means "stretching, stress". In physics, the term is used to describe the elasticity of solid bodies. In terms of our body, the term refers to the natural response to a challenge and can be explained evolutionarily: In the past, it was vital for humans to mobilize the body in case of danger and to prepare for battle or flight; in some situations this is still true today. Pulse and blood pressure rise, all senses are sharpened, breathing becomes faster, muscles tighten. Today, however, our body rarely needs to respond to combat or flight. As a result, the psychologically charged person usually no longer has a valve to relieve internal pressure.

Positive stress

"Stress takes place in the mind," says German psychotherapist and author Diana Drexler. "Experiencing stress depends on our subjective experience." Stress per se is not bad, it is necessary for human development and a motor for change. Positive stress (Eustress), also called flow, increases the attention and promotes the efficiency of our body without harming it. Eustress motivates and increases productivity, for example, when we solve tasks successfully. Stress is only considered negative if it occurs too often and without physical balance.

We find negative stress (distress) to be threatening and overstretching. Where stress means something different for everyone: "For people without work alone means the unemployment and the feeling of not being worth anything, stress that can lead to burnout," says Nancy Talasz-Braun, life and social counselor and yoga teacher. Others felt stressed by their job, many felt they had to work.


Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) according to Edmund Jacobson: Individual muscle parts are strained and loosened again after a short time.

Autogenic Training: A psychotherapeutic method of self-relaxation founded by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz.

Breathing exercises like the "Square Breathing": Inhale for three seconds, hold your breath, exhale and hold again. In the process one imagines a square in the spirit.

Yoga is an Indian philosophical teaching that includes a series of mental and physical exercises. There are different forms like Hatha Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga.

Myth multitasking

Sabine Fisch, a self-employed medical journalist, has developed a stress-relieving strategy: "Every Monday I make a to-do list for the whole week, and I only take in so much every day that even unforeseen things fit into it. Astonishingly, that usually works, so that I experience stress more often as positive, because it boosts my drive. "
A good plan in today's world of work, which demands more and more from us. Multitasking seems to be the magic word here - but what is really behind it? "In truth, we do not do different things at the same time, but in succession," explains Dr. Jürgen Sandkühler, Head of the Center for Brain Research at the Medical University of Vienna. "The brain is unable to do several cognitive tasks, such as those in which we use our minds." What is commonly known as multitasking is what Sandkühler calls "multiplexing": "Our brain switch back and forth between the different tasks. "

US computer scientist Gloria Mark found in an attempt that concurrent completion of multiple tasks does not save time: California office workers were interrupted on average every eleven minutes, each time requiring 25 minutes to return to their original task. "It's about how I deal with stress myself and whether I can work at my own pace," says Sandkühler. Job satisfaction is to a large extent related to self-determination. "Stress often arises more from exaggerated demands on oneself than through external constraints," adds psychotherapist Drexler. "And by lack of personal responsibility." Only too often, the blame for their own problems on the work or the boss pushed. "It's not about avoiding stressors, the question is how to deal with them."

Tips for stress-free work

from dr. Peter Hoffmann, Work psychologist of the AK Vienna)

Create clear work structures.

Create a daily and weekly schedule and review the results at the end of the week.

Set priorities.

Set yourself clear tasks and goals.

Do not be interrupted if possible.

Learn to say no in a polite but specific way and then stick to it.

Clarify your availability in the spare time with the boss and colleagues and look in your employment contract, as this point is regulated.

Think for yourself whether you want to be reachable anytime, anywhere.

If you stop your mail traffic in the morning and about an hour before the end of work, turn off pop-ups (windows that show incoming mails).

Do not put yourself under pressure to answer every email or message immediately - the most effective way to handle cell phones and the Internet is in most cases dependent on ourselves.

Burned out by stress

It is clear that chronic stress makes you sick. When the energy reserves are exhausted, the efficiency and concentration decreases. Irritability, nightmares, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and high blood pressure can all be the result. In addition, prolonged stress weakens the immune system and can lead to heart disease, lung disease and back pain. The dreaded peak is burn-out syndrome, which affects more and more people. A number of external factors play a role: time and performance pressure, lack of individual job opportunities, the fear of losing a job, high responsibility for low pay and bullying. But certain personality traits also seem to favor the development of a burn-out syndrome. Sufferers are often very committed and ambitious characters, who put themselves under high pressure to succeed, have a penchant for perfectionism and want to do everything themselves. Even a part-time job can lead to a burn-out syndrome, if it is perceived as extremely stressful. On the other hand, there are people who work 60 up to 70 hours a week under high pressure without getting in trouble. Burn-Out only occurs when the limit of adaptability to the challenges is permanently exceeded and personal stress processing is chronically overwhelmed.

Andreas B. had "the juice outside" overnight. "The burnout has - as in many cases, which I've come to know - result from a mutual swaying of professional and private burdens," says the 50-year-old. His way back led to a deliberate break with lots of rest, regular meal and bed times and moderate exercise. TV and radio were switched off. "Today I can see more clearly and find myself on a new basis and my feelings."


Unsaturated fatty acids make nerve cells more elastic: they are found in peanuts, walnuts, linseed, canola and nut oil, and in cold-water fish such as herring, tuna and salmon.

The B vitamins - B1, B6 and B12 vitamins - are known for their anti-stress effects, found in yeast, wheat germ, cattle and calf's liver, avocados and bananas. Vitamins A, C and E - antioxidants protect nerves and blood vessels.

Magnesium is an important mineral for nervous and brain health, it is contained in bananas.

Complex carbohydrates instead of sugar: They are found mainly in wholegrain cereal products, oats, potatoes, legumes such as peas or beans and many fruits and vegetables.

Learning to say no

Nancy Talasz-Braun, who also works with body coaching, knows that burn-out-endangered people often experience physical symptoms such as back and neck pain only when they relax. "Many people are so under pressure that they no longer perceive physical problems in everyday life." As relaxation methods would provide many television or computer games. "I advise my clients to take regular breathing exercises instead, and only five minutes." Even better are daily yoga exercises like sun salutation or regular meditation. "Every day 20 minutes, over a period of several weeks, let the mind come to rest." Everyone has to find out for themselves, what is good, how to recharge their batteries, explains psychologist and psychotherapist Anneliese Fuchs. "This can be a walk in nature, a meditation or a sauna visit." Fuchs notes that many people, for fear of losing their job or friends, lead a life that does not suit them. "In my lectures, I advise you to stop complaining and instead get up and do something. Any kind of experience, even negative ones, brings us further - we have to learn to make mistakes again and sometimes to say no! ", The psychologist is convinced. "Whether you feel stress depends heavily on your own attitude towards performance, mistakes, responsibility and authority," psychologist Drexler points out. "You can counteract taxes by developing more tolerance for yourself and others."

Photo / Video: Shutterstock.

Written by Susanne Wolf

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