Every second person suffers from stress! The report on stress from the German Federal government, which involved 17,000 participants, proves what we have always sensed. Every second person complains that stress keeps increasing all the time in our society. The internationally renowned World Health Organisation (WHO) also describes stress as one of the biggest problems of the 21st century. The causes are diverse. Situations in which we feel under stress are especially:

  • multi-tasking or multiple pressures
  • permanent pressure to perform and meet deadlines
  • constant interruptions in our tasks
  • monotonous and dreary work

What happens inside our body under stress?

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Stress is not a purely mental problem. Anyone who has experienced stress knows that stress also has physical manifestations. Every stressful situation, no matter how short or long, has a critical impact on our bodily processes and functions.

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Our body works rather like a power station

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Imagine that your body works like a power station constantly producing energy. As in all production systems, waste products such as harmful substances are produced along with the desired energy. When the power station works at the normal level, all the harmful substances can be fully reduced. But if the machines are permanently overheated, more harmful substances build up than can be reduced. Resulting in lower performance.

In stressful situations the power stations in our cells, or what we call mitochondria, have to produce far more energy than under normal stress conditions. As a result, the amount of waste products generated during the production of energy also jumps. These waste products are called free radicals. Under normal conditions the body is able to completely neutralise these free radicals quickly. Under stress, however, the number of free radicals increases so much that the body is no longer able to neutralise them.

If they are not neutralised, the free radicals attack our cells and cell structures. The cell is destroyed and is therefore unable to produce energy any more. When this condition persists, it has extreme effects on our body.

The consequences for our physical and mental capabilities are reduced energy production, meaning we get tired and exhausted more quickly and cannot concentrate so well. back

Bodily processes under normal conditions:

In the normal state the mitochondria in our cells produce both energy and waste products – so-called free radicals. These are completely eradicated quickly by antioxidants.

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  • Die The mitochondria are the power stations of our cells.
  • Free radicals are the waste products of energy production.
  • Antioxidants eradicate them quickly.
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Physical reactions in stress situations:

Under stress our cells have to produce increasing amounts of energy. In the process, more or more waste products are produced. The body can no longer eradicate them fast enough. The free radicals then attack the cells, thereby reducing their energy production or even destroying them altogether.

  • Under stress conditions more,free radicals are produced than can be eradicated by antioxidants.
  • They attack the cells and prevent further production of energy
An excess of free radicals in the body is known as oxidative stress. back

Oxidative stress is detrimental for the body and mind

This oxidative stress is one of the main damage mechanisms at the level of cells and molecules. For us, some of the manifestations of stress symptoms are:

  • Poor concentration,
  • Tiredness or lack of energy,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • Sweating and inner anxiety.

Oxidative stress makes us age much faster and can lead to physical disorders over the long term.

Over the long run oxidative stress reduces physical performance!

Chronic oxidative stress can cause inflammations. Cells suffer permanent damage, which can ultimately affect whole organs. Inflammations are one of the main causes of and bases for secondary illnesses.

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  • Vascular damage and vasculitis can lead to poor circulation.
  • Heart diseases, Alzheimer's disease or cancer – an imbalance in the proportion of free radicals encourages and contributes to the development of all of them.

Then there is the unholy alliance between stress and excess weight. It is not just that the body gains weight more quickly under stress hormones. When we are under stress, we also tend to have a poorer diet. The stress hormone cortisol, for example, shifts fat to the abdomen from other parts of the body and causes fluctuating blood sugar levels and increased insulin levels. All factors which lead to long term weight gain.

Stress also has an impact on the psyche!

Chronic stress is tiring and contributes to feelings of exhaustion. We often develop feelings of anxiety of no longer being able to cope. General listlessness is another typical consequence of stress.

Psychiatric illnesses may also develop if we have a predisposition for them, and these drive us ever deeper into the spiral of stress:

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  • Listlessness and states of mental exhaustion
  • Burnout – also known as "exhaustion depression". A condition in which our entire organism, from the cell to the organs and to the mental level is severely affected.
  • Depression. An extreme situation for which treatment by a doctor is essential.
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Did you know ...?

… that our body is not genetically designed for today's much higher demands?

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