Stress has always been and will always be a part of our lives. Although we usually perceive stress negatively, its main purpose is to protect us. But what if it becomes pervasive and does more harm than good to our health?

It doesn't pay to ignore stress and fighting it only brings relief in the short term. It is wise to listen to it and understand its causes. This will not only help us to mitigate its effects on our health, but often also to change our relationship with ourselves.

What is stress?

Stress is a natural human reaction in a situation of threat. Such a reaction takes place both on a mental level (feeling aroused) and on a physical level (increase in breathing and heart rate, blood flow to muscles), and can save us in real danger.

Situations where our lives are at stake are few these days, but in everyday life we face many demands and find ourselves under pressure. And even this can be perceived by our body as a threat.

A stressful situation that lasts too long or is repeated frequently becomes problematic. It exhausts the body. In this context, we speak of long-term or chronic stress.


Types of stress

Distress - negative stress, a straggler
Unwanted low-intensity stress, distress, can cause considerable problems for the body. Over time, it accumulates and can develop into chronic stress that causes unpleasant mental or physical symptoms. This can be caused by societal pressures on an individual's performance, stress from school or work, doing things at the last minute, insecurity in relationships, or fear for loved ones.

Eustress - a positive stress helper
Helpful stress is called eustress. Eustress does no harm, quite the opposite - an optimal level of stress acts as a creative and motivational force. When stressors are seen as an opportunity or challenge that can be successfully overcome, they evoke pleasant feelings.

It may seem difficult to recognize the line between positive and negative stress, but just observe your body. If you notice signs of stress on yourself, such as poor sleep or digestive problems, it is unhealthy stress.

Chronic stress
Normal everyday stress should subside naturally once the stressful situation has passed. However, chronic stress is stress that persists for a long time and can cause health complications.

Understanding the stress response

When we encounter a threat, such as a large barking dog, our hypothalamus, a small but important area in the brain, sets off the body's alarm system. This system prompts our adrenal glands to release hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases heart rate, blood pressure and also increases energy stores. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, increases the amount of sugars in the blood, thus ensuring the availability of substances that repair tissues.

When the natural stress response persists

Once the perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. Adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, heart rate and blood pressure return to a resting state, and other systems return to their normal activities as well.

However, if stressors are constantly present and you feel constantly threatened, the "fight or flight" response remains on.

Prolonged activation of the stress response system and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt many processes in our bodies. This puts us at increased risk of health complications.

This is why it is so important to learn healthy ways to cope with life's stressors.

What are the manifestations of stress?

Most people encounter stress on a daily basis, but everyone experiences it differently and reacts to it differently. For this reason, the marks it leaves on our health if it lasts too long or is too intense are also individual.

Stress and psychosomatics

In addition to mental anxiety, stress very often manifests itself psychosomatically, i.e. on our body. The most common complications are cardiovascular and digestive problems. Skin diseases, sexual and reproductive problems, insomnia and hair loss are also common.

Possible physical manifestations of stress:

  • acne, eczema, rashes and other skin problems
  • anxiety, depression
  • diabetes
  • heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
  • thyroid hyperfunction
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • indigestion, abdominal pain, stress diarrhea
  • stomach ulcers
  • weight changes
  • hair loss from stress
  • reduced sexual desire
  • headaches
  • muscle tension and pain
  • sleep problems
  • memory and concentration problems

Indeed, research and clinical practice confirm this link. Unlike short-term stress, which tends to protect the pancreas from inflammation, long-term stress is a risk. The pancreas is permeated by a dense network of nerves that are sensitive to the hormones the body produces as a result of stress. Ultimately, this increases the risk of inflammation.

How to get rid of stress? And how to learn to manage stressful situations?

In case you are already suffering from stress and are looking for ways to get rid of it, we recommend treating both your body and your mind.

Stressful events are part of life. And you may not be able to change your current situation. However, you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you.

If you really want to be consistent, then the optimal solution is to contact a professional, a psychotherapist or a coach.

Body-centred techniques include breath work - many people find that they breathe too superficially or don't use the full space of their chest and abdomen. You can try some form of relaxation or focus on movement. Working with the mind tends to be complex, but it can be kick-started by, for example, an hour a day that we dedicate to ourselves.

Stress management strategies include:

  • healthy eating, regular exercise and getting enough sleep.
  • morning exercise (e.g. deliberately parking the car a few streets away from work)
  • relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, massage or meditation
  • keeping a journal, writing down thoughts or things we are grateful for in life
  • time for hobbies, for yourself
  • developing healthy friendships and conversations with loved ones
  • finding ways to incorporate more humor and laughter into your life
  • volunteering
  • prioritizing and eliminating tasks that are not necessary
  • professional counselling to help you develop specific strategies for coping with stress

Avoid unhealthy ways of coping with stress such as overeating, alcohol, tobacco or other addictive substances. If you are concerned that you may be prone to this in stressful situations, talk to your doctor.

Your reward for learning to manage stress will be greater peace of mind, improved relationships, health and overall quality of life.


How can psychotherapy help me with stress?

Therapy allows us to slow down and focus our attention on the real causes of stress, which are often hidden in the whirlwind of everyday responsibilities. It helps us to name them and change some of our patterns of behaviour so that we can stay calm.

The advantage of online therapy is its quick accessibility in challenging situations where a therapist can be a welcome guide.

How to prevent stress and what are the possibilities for prevention?

For stress prevention, all the well-known tips for a healthy lifestyle apply - a balanced diet, exercise and enough sleep. But if you want to do something more for yourself, slow down, become aware of everything you do, what you think about and what you experience. Stress catches up with us whenever we are too far away from ourselves.

We can also take the fact that we have been forced by circumstances to deal with stress as a challenge. As an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and learn how to slow down, have more time to ourselves, and how to make the most of that time.

Psychotherapy is a great stress prevention option and we don't have to reach for it when we are "on fire". Let's maintain social contacts and close interpersonal relationships. Relationships require constant care, but this will result in life satisfaction. Let's build healthy habits, which undoubtedly include plenty of exercise, quality sleep and a nutrient-rich diet.

Gratitude is one more way to avoid the accumulation of stress. Let's be grateful for what we have, but also for the obstacles we have to overcome.
Let's take a moment for ourselves each day and attend to our needs.

Test yourself for stress

You can also test yourself with a quick and reliable online stress test. The test uses the PSS methodology and will help you determine how much stress you are experiencing based on your answers to 10 simple questions.

A story about a client with stress and how psychotherapy helped her

“I gave it my all and made big demands on myself. This caused chaos in my daily schedule and a lot of stress. In therapy, we looked at why I had such a need to be efficient. And why I couldn't relax. The therapist also helped me to establish a daily routine in my activities and to find a space to relax. Surprisingly, I am even more productive now than when I was under pressure and I even have more time to rest.”

Thinking about therapy?

It's definitely worth a try
To make therapy work we will help you find the best therapist
With a short test we can help you find someone who will listen to you within in 5 minutes
We choose our therapists carefully
We choose our therapists carefully
Before therapists join our community, they go through a lengthy selection process, have verified education and training
We will help you find the best therapist
We will help you find the best therapist
With a short test we will show you the three most suitable therapists according to your requirements
We will complement the therapy with video lessons
We will complement the therapy with video lessons
For subscribers, we offer 60 online mental health video lessons that you can watch at any time
Start test
Subscribe to Hedepy newsletter
Tips, discounts, news
By subscribing you agree to our personal data processing principles

VisaMastercardGoogle PayApple PayPayPalKlarna