“I have run to fast, i have to stop and wait for my soul” (Native American saying, my translation so it may not be the right words).

It’s something to think about when you feel stressed. But what happens in the body when you stress?

Definition of stress

Stress originates from physics and is the tolerance a material can endure before it breaks (Peter Jonsson, 2005).

It is a physical and mental reaction occuring as a person is exposed to demans or pressure from the surrounding (Peter Jonsson, 2005).

Whichever form – physically or mentally – of situation that threatens homeostasis is a form for stress (Frederic H. Martini, 7th edition 2006).

Different types of stress

Hans Selye described four different types of stress:

Eustress – (compare eufori) is the happy stress that occur in lives exiting moments.

Understress – is the opposite of eustress. It hits us when we are bored and understimulated.

Overstress – is overload of the body’s physical, mental and emotional resources. It is to press yourself over your biological limits, to burn your light in both ends. It is overstress during a long period that most certainly drives us to a state ov burn out.

Distress – is a mood that follows long period of over- or understress. It is inelaborated frustration, angst, daring situationer that can’t be avoided or held back wrath.

Stressor

A stressor is the situation that trigger stress in the brain.

General adaption syndrome (GAS)

It was the Canadian researcher Hans Selye that researched in the area and found general adaption syndrome. GAS is also known as the body’s answer to stress. This syndrome can be divided into three phases.

Alarm phase – This is where the direct respons on stress comes. In this phase glucose is made and “flight or fight”-respons. Adrenaline is the dominant hormone. Some characteristics for this phase are:

  • Hightened mental clarity
  • Hightened energy consumption of the muscles
  • Mobilisation of glycogen and lipides
  • Circulation changes

Resistance phase – If no reactions in the alarm phase is taken care of, the body enters the resistance phase. This occurs for example at starvation, acute illness or bad angst. The dominant hormones are gucocoticoids, but there are also adrenaline, growth hormone and thyroids. In this phase:

  • The rest of the reserves of the lipides and proteins mobilises
  • Glucose is canned for the nerve cells
  • The blood glucose concentration increases and stabilises
  • Salt and water and the loss of K+ and H+ is canned.
  • Aldosterone is produced in this phase to keep the blood volume intact, which leads to a conservation of Na+ which leads to loss of K+. This leads to the cells in the body stops functioning or function wrong.

Exhaustion phase – If the reactions in the resistance phase is not taken care of, the body enters the exhaustion phase. In this phase, vital organs collapses. This can mean exhaustion of the lipides reservs, unability to produce glucocorticoides, electrolyte balance don’t work and vital organs gets functional and structural damages.

If we don’t get our rest

The human being builds up energy in an anabolic phase. This energy is consumed and when it is empty, the consumption of the reserves starts (katabolic phase). When we put this system out of the game, the signals to the brain changes and the reactions is put out of the game.

When stress occurs cortisole is produced, which in turn creates free oxygen radicals and it starts an oxidative process. Normally the melatonine takes care of the cortisole and melantonine is created as we sleep. If we don’t rest, we get less melantonine and the production of cortisole leads to it being a deficancy of it and the cells of the body is broken down. Oxytoccin is another antidote towards cortisole. It is triggered by touch.

If we don’t take care of the stress, it leads to homeostasis being put out of the process and the body closes down the repairing and restoration of inner organs and buildning of new cells. The immune system can change and get weakened, memory can get worse and in really bad cases the hippocampus can shrink. Uncontrollable stress turns off the frontal lobes and amygdala (feelings) are turned on.

Situations in an organisation where stress can occur:

  • Less persons must do more work than earlier. Populary called downsizing.
  • Long periodes of uncertainty about changes or the work.
  • The organisation has unclear and opposite goals.
  • In the new organisation there is old competens that the organisation feels don’t have a place.
  • When the demands rises or changes more individuals becomes high risk persons.

What is a high risk person?

  • A dedicated soul
  • VIP (Very Important Person), thinks everything depends on it
  • Don’t demand any descent working conditions
  • Tries to bring life to a stone
  • Has sickness prescence
  • Work has an inner meaning for the person
  • Is good
  • Has a “Can do it myself” mentality, and don’t ask for help

High risk culture

There’s also so called high risk cultures, which stands for:

  • to praise accomplishments and despise weakness (the organisations definition of weakness)
  • the boss should be able to do everything and know everything
  • that the budget adds up is the most important thing
  • that your not allowed to have a family or spare time
  • a low participation at changes

Tips for you to not stress yourself to death:

  • Take time out to rest.
  • Be clear on your limits and borders, what you can say yes to and when to say no.
  • Take care of yourself and have spare time.
  • Dare to stand up for what you feel is good for your health. Remember that you are important!
  • Think about what happens in your body when stressing long periods and ask yourself if you want to get sick or even risk dying. Prioritizing what’s most important may come in a different perspective then. You only have one body that you shall live a life with, what life do you want to live?
  • I use essential oils to relax; lavender or francinsence/olibanum.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.