It’s a perfectly normal situation: work and family demand your full attention. A full appointment calendar leaves you no time to take a deep breath. Everything has to be reconciled somehow. The inner tension increases from day to day.
More and more people find the constantly increasing demands placed on them to be a burden. Accustomed to permanently meeting high standards in our work and family lives, we are coming under increasing pressure to perform. Over a certain period of time, body and psyche can adapt, but at some point it is no longer possible. The body sounds the alarm, initially with disturbances of well-being, later also with illnesses.
Stress is triggered by external factors and is unavoidable in the life of every human being. It can have both positive and negative effects. We distinguish between eustress, the positive, and stress, the negative form of stress. Eustress usually occurs as a short-term stress situation and spurs people on to peak performance. The person feels able to master the situation.
In contrast, chronic stress in particular is perceived as stress. It is burdensome and makes people ill. Stress can be triggered by stimulus satiation, noise, lack of time, examination situations, death of a close relative, lack of money, bullying etc. The stress system is also often overactive in people who care for the chronically ill, get divorced, become unemployed or feel constantly overwhelmed at work, school or at home.
Acute stress situations are unavoidable
Brief stress situations are completely normal and are balanced by our body. They can even have a positive effect, as our immune system is activated for a short time and the situation can therefore contribute to a training effect.
Cortisol is one of the central players in the stress response. Formed from cholesterol, it can make an acute contribution to coping with the stress situation. Blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerine levels in the blood rise sharply and quickly provide the body with large amounts of energy. The sensation of pain is inhibited and mental performance is increased in the short term. The blood supply to the brain, heart and muscles is increased. As a result, the blood supply to the skin and intestines is reduced. This gives the body the best conditions to escape a threat of fight or flight.
Cortisol also influences the immune system. The cells of the natural immune response are activated and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines is induced. Potential injuries as a result of a fight or escape can thus be healed quickly and effectively.
A stress situation increases the energy supply in the blood. If it cannot be broken down through physical activity, it leads to increased insulin release. The poor intestinal blood circulation can often lead to digestive problems.
As opponents of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and melatonin are released with a time delay and counteract the effects of cortisol.
Thus, reactions of the body to acute stress situations such as an exam, an unpredictable situation or physical threat are temporary. They subside after 20 to 30 minutes and are usually not dangerous for the body. On the contrary, they can even have a kind of training effect on the immune system.
Constant stress makes you sick
The situation is different with permanent stress. The evolutionary inherited stress response is in many situations only conditionally usable for modern humans. Many stress situations in modern society can neither be solved by running away nor by physical defence. Examples are professional overload, mobbing or social exclusion. In addition to the classic traumas such as the loss of a close person, war experiences and more familiar illnesses, such situations are triggers for permanent stress.
Constant stress leads to chronic activation processes and increases the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, among other things. The immune system also suffers from disorders. The cellular composition of the immune cells is out of balance and the ability to react is reduced. As a result, there may be more frequent delayed wound healing or increased susceptibility to infections. For example, it has been shown that people under chronic stress are more likely to contract respiratory disease2 and have more complications after surgery3. Chronic stress can also reduce the effectiveness of a vaccination by producing fewer specific antibodies.
Thus chronic stress is a high risk factor for health and should be taken seriously! First signs can be increased tension, reduced attention and reduced performance. The individual physical or psychological limits are very different. However, if the limit is exceeded, the metabolism is negatively affected and health consequences are pre-programmed.
Constant fatigue and exhaustion are the first signs of excessive demands. Relaxation exercises can specifically counteract this. Autogenic training, yoga, Qi Gong or even a moderate endurance sport reduce stress. It is important to maintain or regain inner balance.
In addition, attention should be paid to a balanced diet. A wholefood diet rich in vital substances can help to improve physical and mental well-being.
Vital mushrooms can help in stressful situations
As an accompanying and supporting measure, vital mushrooms can contribute to the restoration of health. According to records, they have been used as medicine in Asia for over 4000 years in some cases. With their high beta-glucan content, vital mushrooms can train the immune system and thus prevent stress-related immune deficiency. With ApuXan® and its ingredients Agaricus blazeiMurill and zinc, you keep your immune system ready for defense and your immune cells remain activated.*
* Zinc contributes to a normal function of the immune system.
1: Dhabhar, F. S. Effects of stress on immune function: the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Immunol Res 58, 193-210, (2014).
2: Cohen, S., Tyrrell, D. A. & Smith, A. P. Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold. N Engl J Med 325, 606-612, (1991).
3: Gouin, J. P. & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. The impact of psychological stress on wound healing: methods and mechanisms. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am 31, 81-93, (2011).