Stress primarily means struggle or burden. When we talk about stress or refer to ourselves as stressed, we also mean the reactions that those stresses produce in us. These can be physical or psychological. Physical signs of stress are:
- Sweating attacks
- Palpitations (often associated with feelings of panic)
- A lack of appetite and indigestion (sensation of pressure in the abdomen, constipation/diarrhoea)
- Muscles tension, headache
- Breathing problems
- Disrupted sleep
- Sexual dysfunction, and others.
Sometimes such reactions to acute high levels of stress make sense, if the stressful event lasts only a brief while and requires intense concentration. By releasing stress hormones, the body attempts to respond in a concentrated form to the challenge. If it does not succeed in this without the affected person becoming ill, we talk about an acute or chronic adjustment disorder.
On the psychological side, stress is often expressed as feelings of exhaustion and mental overload, tenseness, changes in mood, irritability, panic attacks, and feelings of constriction, and can lead to depression. Stress often arises as a result of workplace issues or relationship problems.
In order to adjust to or cope with stressful situations, resources are crucial. Acknowledging and activating these is an important element in successfully combating stress. Some examples of resources for stress that you may be able to recommend to patients in a general sense are:
- Take some time out and gain distance
- Persons such as family, friends
- Professional help in the form of doctors, psychologists
- Assessing a job or relationship; expectations should not be set too high (especially expectations of oneself)
- Developing perspectives on how the situation might be changed.
Some people succeed in activating such resources for themselves, whereas other may benefit from a structured programme or conversations/discussions, such as provided by the “Health Coaching KHM” programme. Depending on intensity and need, further counselling will need to be provided by psychologists or psychiatrists.
- Advice page of the association "Stressnostress", which includes useful tips and a stress checking tool: www.stressnostress.ch
- Webpage of the Swiss federal institute for occupational safety and occupational medicine, including a brochure on bullying/mobbing: www.baua.de/de/Publikationen/Broschueren/A12.html
- For professional experts: www.burnoutexperts.ch