If it's too much for you, just get out

A call to happiness or what connects palm, friend and tree (6 min)

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Recently I have been reading one book in particular: Basics of psychology. Half a year ago I decided to try again with a (distance) study. The book is 830 pages thick and I work my way through it. Does that cause me stress? Sometimes, but most of all I really enjoy it. One reason: For a basic scientific work, it offers amazingly realistic (survival) tips.

What's with all this stress?

The chapter on stress and health is also very enlightening. Because stress is known to make you ill. Why is that? First of all: Short-term stress, even massive stress, is not the problem. We humans can cope with it, it is coded deep within us - the sabre-toothed tiger in former times did not register by mail. So we have been living with this for a while. Once the tiger is gone, we calm down again. And that's good and normal.

Nasty is the (present) chronic stress. The one that doesn't stop, that doesn't find a valve, that rotates like a merry-go-round in the back of the head and in life and that doesn't leave us alone - for far too long. Just relax, everyone will say. Right in principle, but easier said than done. It takes more than "a little bit of relaxation" before such a carousel of heads and life comes to a standstill. Is there anything I can do to change my attitude?

Feeling effective again

Here's the thing: Whoever feels unspeakable chronic stress, who has (felt) lost control over an area of life - this can be a relationship, a boss gone wild or a too busy everyday life. I should find out what or who has taken control of my area of life - even if the one or the other insight certainly hurts sometimes. And then you ask yourself the question: How do I get out of this situation?

You should get out. Here are just a few examples why:

Chronically stressed people have a particularly strained immune system (because it is limited in its function). They

  • produce fewer antibodies after a vaccination,
  • need considerably longer (9 days!) to heal small wounds.

Do you want that? No.

Embarrassing? - Out with it!

This leads to tip 1: Think about what you were terribly embarrassed about in your life. Where you were identified as being bad or incredibly stupid. Something that is still your secret today. And you tell it to one person in this world. This is enough to neutralize all the negative psychological aspects that this kind of permanent stress (repression, suppression, etc. are true acts of strength of the psyche) brings with it.

By the way, psychology has also found out that hostility (towards others, the world or oneself) is the characteristic that has the highest negative influence on physical health - and there especially on the cardiovascular system. So when your terrible colleague is about to swan again, you can think "I hate him! I don't think so. You don't have to love him right away, it might be enough to shrug your shoulders, actively listen away, turn around and/or leave the room for a moment. It's healthier for you.

What else can I do?

Like you, don't talk bad about yourself: Are you dissatisfied, ask yourself why? Don't nag all the time! Ask yourself what you can change to be more satisfied again. Don't say categorically: "I'm too stupid to do this." You better think, "Oh, too bad. I'll be smarter next time." Be constructive in your criticism - towards yourself and others.

Look beyond your own nose: Something really makes you angry, your impressions are in line with those of others. They may have a completely different perspective on the same situation, they may not even see the torrero red flag and give you a new perspective on things. That can shift the head carousel down a gear.

Let yourself be happy: If you are successful, happy and inebriated with your life, tell others. Use the euphoria and realize what you are really good at, what makes you strong and unique. And you remember that. You will reflect on this in worse phases. They will also come back, don't worry ...

Get out when it's over your head: You slide into a situation where you have your fist in your pocket and someone is yelling at you, harassing you, beating you up. The fuse is soon burned in both. F*ck off! Turn around and walk away. Or you'll do or say something you'll regret later. When your spirits have calmed down, you can resume the conversation. If the conversation cannot be resumed (and the situation cannot be restored), get rid of all your anger (see tip1): Tell a good friend or the palm tree at home or the tree in the forest. It doesn't matter. The main thing is that the bad feelings are "out".

Welcome mistakes: Mistakes and disappointments are not nice, good. But they have a lot of potential! - to learn about. So don't turn a mistake into a general problem ("I'm too stupid to do this!"), but make the best of it - and see how and where you can change things for the better.

All right? In order to change tension for yourself in a "healthier" way, to reduce stress and to remain capable of acting, it is often helpful in a first step

1. to withdraw and/or let things bounce off you,

2. when little or nothing helps anymore, to either release the pressure (friend, palm tree, tree) or to avoid it. This is truly not a disgrace, but wise!

Because stress has to go somewhere before it restricts your own health.


Pedersen et al. Psychological stress and antibody response to influenza vaccination: A meta-analysis. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2009. 23;4: 427–433

Kiecolt-Glasert JK et al. Slowing of wound healing by psychological stress. Lancet, 1995. 4;346(8984): 1194–6

Pennebaker J. Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological Science, 19908: 162–166

Petrie KJ. et al. The Immunological Effects of Thought Suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Pssychology, 75: 1264–1272.

Gerrig RJ. Psychologie. Hallbergmoss, Pearson; 2018

Photos by MontyLovAdam BirkettJasmin Schreiber, Karsten Winegeart, Tetiana Martynenko on Unsplash 

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