Effective advice: how to relieve stress, especially in the summer months?

Effective advice: how to relieve stress, especially in the summer months?
Photo source: Getty images

Getting rid of stress may not be easy for everyone. Some people are more successful, others less so. The best thing to do is to avoid stressful situations. But it doesn't always work. In any case, we have many options to relieve stress. Now more than ever in summer.

Avoiding stress is not always as easy as it seems. However, there are methods to eliminate stress itself.

What is stress and how does it arise

Stress is a defensive reaction of the organism. Objectively, it can be detected by the chemical and physiological manifestations of the human organism. In other words, we immediately see it in another person or in ourselves.

It is the psychological state of a person who expects to be threatened or is already directly threatened. However, he cannot determine whether his defensive reaction will be strong enough.

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The trigger for such reactions are various circumstances and situations. They are called stressors - fright, surprise, sad but also happy news. Depending on their nature, they have different effects on the psyche, but also on the physical performance of a person.

Thus, stress can also be induced by a positive stimulus and physiologically manifest itself in the same way as the opposite type of stressor. In another case, some people induce it deliberately, through various adrenaline activities. From this point of view, we therefore divide stressors into:

  • positive - anticipation of a positive event or surprise from it, improve performance and creativity
  • negative - unfavourable situations have the opposite effect
  • specific - induced deliberately, followed by relaxation

In the ranking of stressors, a school exam is at the top, even on a par with the death of a spouse. At the opposite pole is a change of residence, a change in sleep rhythm or a traffic violation.

However, the triggering factors of stress can also be physiological in nature. For example, noise, strong light, movement in unfamiliar surroundings and so on.

The symptoms of stress manifest themselves at different levels. The table below shows how they are divided.

Physiological blushing, trembling, sweating, nail biting, headaches, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, lack of appetite or excessive appetite
Emotional tension, fatigue, mood swings, crying, fear, irritability
In behaviour disturbance in class, absenteeism, cheating, aggression, insomnia, impaired school performance, reduced communication with others

Stress has two components: the trigger, i.e. the stressor, and the defence, i.e. the response to the stress.

Research has found that psychological trauma has broadly similar consequences to physical trauma.

The occurrence of stress is conditioned by the influence of the stressor on the person. Thus, there is a certain triggering factor at the beginning.

The first phase is often referred to as a warning or alarm phase. It is accompanied by a clear warning that stress is present. The first bodily reactions begin to manifest, alerting the person to heightened attention. If the situation begins to cross a threshold where the person was still aware of enough strength to cope with it, the feeling of real stress sets in.

The next stage is the phase of resistance or resilience.

The third phase is exhaustion, manifested by states of depression and anxiety.

How our body reacts to stress from a physiological point of view

There are three ways of reacting, namely numbness, fight or flight.

During the experience of stress, there is an immediate increase in the production of catecholamines. These are hormones produced by the cells of the adrenal medulla. The most important catecholamines produced by these cells are adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine.

They cause the heart to increase its activity, increase its frequency and raise blood pressure. This causes more blood to be pumped through the bloodstream, which needs a greater supply of oxygen. Hence the increase in respiratory rate.

The endocrine glands start to supply hormones to the bloodstream which move cholesterol and fats into the blood vessels. These supply energy to the muscles.

The blood vessels in the skin and kidneys constrict. This process is called general adaptation syndrome. It arises as a general effort by the body to adapt to a new situation.

Described by the Hungarian-born Canadian physiologist Hans Selye, it lasts about eight seconds and is designed to prepare the body for fight or flight.

What happens when stressors affect a person's body over a long period of time

Under such circumstances, a person's immune system is affected and there is a decline in its performance.

As a consequence, less serious health impairments may occur. Colds, flu, headaches, spinal pain, a feeling of pressure in the chest (in this case, only if there is no other serious illness or condition detectable only by differential diagnosis, such as an ECG) or some skin reactions.

Arterial hypertension(high blood pressure), stomach ulcers, intestinal disorders, asthma, diabetes or mental illness can be a greater threat. Even fatal illnesses such as malignant tumours, cerebral infarction or suicide can be a consequence. Finally, chronic stress can lead to insomnia, energy depletion and depression.

Also read the article on depression.

To a certain extent, stress is beneficial to the body because deprivation could occur if there is a lack of stimulus.

Deprivation is defined as a chronic lack of satisfaction of physical or psychological needs. It is a lack of social connections or sensory stimuli. There are several types of deprivation:

  • Social - It is caused by a lack of contact with other people. It most often affects the elderly and lonely people. It is manifested by melancholy, depression and anxiety. Lack of satisfaction of social contacts has psychosomatic consequences.
  • Biological - Lack of access to food, water, vitamins, hygiene and health care. It has highly negative consequences for physical and mental health.
  • Motor - It is caused by a limited ability to move. It results in a deterioration of motor intelligence.
  • Sensory - It is caused by a lack of or insufficient variety of sensory perceptions. The sufferer's intelligence, imagination and imaginative ability decline on the basis of monotonous sensory perceptions.
  • Sleep - Occurs when there is prolonged sleep deprivation.
  • Relative - When an individual perceives his/her social situation as unfavorable compared to others.

Psychological or complex deprivation is the resultant of all of the above. Research has concluded that there are basic psychological needs that, if met in adequate measure, are important for healthy psychological experience.

There are four basic needs:

  • the need for a certain amount, variability and types of stimuli
  • the need for basic conditions for a standard experience of life
  • the need for social relationships
  • the need for social application, enabling the acquisition of various social tasks and worthwhile goals

The manifestations of psychological deprivation take so many different forms that it is difficult to draw up a comprehensive list of them. In a large number of cases, its manifestation may give the impression of a serious mental disorder or other illness.

Depressed people often have low self-esteem. It is important to work with psychiatrists or psychologists to treat it.

How to get rid of stress

Because of the above-mentioned problems caused by stress, it is a good idea to get rid of it. It does not matter whether it is a long-term or short-term effect.

There are countless negative factors that affect people. Some are easy to avoid, others are harder to avoid and sometimes they cannot be avoided at all. That is why it is important to get rid of stress.

If you can do this, you will feel better not only mentally but also physically.

The problem arises when we are exposed to stress for a long time. That's when it starts to show in our body. The body stops cooperating with us and we feel like it's not even ours.

We don't just have to accept stress, but we can also actively get rid of it. Active doesn't mean giving off a quantum of energy right away. Even after a good conditioning workout that completely breaks down our homeostasis (the stability of our internal environment), we feel really comfortable.

Sometimes a good shout out or a constructive argument will take the tension out of our system better than anything else. But do we always have to go through borderline situations?

One thing's for sure. Suppressing stress is undesirable. It only builds up and leads us into a vicious cycle.

Another way is to transform stress and transfer it into another form. It is actually a build-up of negative energy, so it needs to be used for something constructive.

Or relaxation can help us. And here we are at the root of the matter. Relaxation is rest and as such it can be active or inactive. Inactive rest may not be the right term. For example, sleep is also a kind of activity and quite effective in relieving stress. There just has to be enough of it.

We should simply do something that brings us personal satisfaction.

These activities will help us relieve stress


It is very important in relieving stress. It is an effective prevention against it because it helps us to manage it more easily. On the contrary, lack of it triggers our stress.

It is defined as a regular state of rest, observed in all mammals, birds and fish. It ensures the regeneration of the organism, both physical and mental. It is characterized by a slowing of breathing and heart rate and is accompanied by a lower sensitivity to external stimuli. It is an ideal state for stress relief.

However, it is important to know when and how to sleep.

The main influence on our sleep is the hormone melatonin, the production of which is influenced by the intensity of light. Light inhibits its production, so it is produced most at night. Up to ten times more than during the day. It has a major influence on our biorhythm.

Even a coffee or other stimulating drink will not have the same effect on melatonin at night as during daylight hours. The best thing to do is not to go to bed during daylight hours.

Two men sleeping at a table outside the shop. It's an old shop.
Sleep is very important for stress relief. Source: Thinkstock

A few tips on how to get a good night's sleep. In addition to the above, the following principles are also important:

  • Simply go to bed and sleep. There are many reasons why we postpone sleep. However, when the thought of going to bed occurs to us, we simply have to do it.
  • Do not stare at the TV screen or other electronic devices for at least half an hour before going to bed. Our eyes need rest as much as our minds. They are unduly burdened by such activity.
  • It is best to follow a regular sleep rhythm and go to bed at the same time. The same goes for getting up. It may be hard for some people to get used to, but the resulting effect is worth it.
  • No work just before bedtime is as important as sleep itself. So put it off until the morning. Don't go to bed thinking about what still needs to be done or what has already been done.
  • Don't go to bed with a full stomach. Don't eat or drink any energy drinks, including coffee, at least an hour before sleep.

How long we should sleep is also determined by the need for sleep at a particular age. The ideal length of sleep, according to scientific studies, is 6.5 to 7.5 hours each night. There is no need to add more, because too much sleep is just as harmful as not enough. However, the paradox is that sleeping 8.5 hours can do more harm than sleeping only 5 hours.

Table of sleep duration according to the National sleep foundation.

Newborn and infant up to 3 months of age 14-17 hours
Infant from 4 to 11 months 12-15 hours
Toddler from 1 to 2 years 11-14 hours
Preschool child from 3 to 5 years 10-13 hours
Schoolchild from 6 to 13 years 9-11 hours
Teenager from 14 to 17 years 8-10 hours
Adult from 18 to 64 years 7-9 hours
Older person over 65 7-8 hours


It is another important factor in a healthy lifestyle and thus in eliminating stress. It is important to include plenty of vegetables (especially leafy greens) and fruits in the diet. Vegetables should even predominate over fruits. A lack of vegetables is worse for the body than a lack of fruits.

Fruits should be used especially when we have a sweet tooth. It is a source of a large number of vitamins and a banana even contains magnesium.

It is a mineral that is important for proper muscle and nerve function. It helps to reduce irritability and stress. It reduces depression and helps to healthy teeth. Almonds, nuts, dark leafy vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals are also natural sources of it.

Consumption of proven stress relievers in stressful situations, such as chocolate and other sweets, is controversial, especially in terms of their content. Chocolate has the effect of relieving stress. However, the principle that one should focus on quality over quantity applies.

High-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 75 % and a low, but preferably no, sugar content is recommended.

Sugar is not a stress reliever. In the case of chocolate, it is niacin. This substance increases serotonin levels in the brain, so we are more relaxed and in a better mood. It is a B vitamin.

It's also found in other foods. For example, liver, sunflower seeds, turkey, beans, peas, tuna, leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, eggs. The choices are varied.

The diet should be varied and regular, with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Their consumption has been found to improve people's complex social relationships or increase their interest. They have a beneficial effect on the immune system, the cardiovascular system, shorten the course of inflammatory processes and are also used in the treatment of certain psychiatric diseases.

Some fish species, such as salmon, trout, herring and mackerel, contain them, as do walnuts, rapeseed, soya and their oils.

Sugar-containing foods have a high glycaemic index. As such, they are not recommended in stressful situations. They give the body immediate energy. The opposite of calming. Moreover, if they are not used immediately, they are stored in fat tissue.

When they are eaten frequently and the energy they provide is not used, they have a detrimental effect on a person's health.

The glycemic index is a quantity that expresses the rate at which glucose (sugar) from a particular food is processed by the body.

The breakdown of time

Just organize our day properly and everything goes easier. We don't put things off until later so that they don't pile up before an important deadline. We need to organize things so that we can accomplish everything we have planned.

However, here too, we must not be too hard on ourselves. Do not put tasks in front of us that are difficult to accomplish. Instead of avoiding stress, we will create pressure on ourselves.

The principle of the golden mean and prioritisation applies here. A little sense of responsibility and then taking time for yourself. A little sport and, of course, time for family.


It is a very good help to reduce stress. It has a positive effect on the mental and physical side of a person.

It releases large amounts of endorphins. These are hormones that are released in the brain. They are also called happiness hormones. They cause good mood, feelings of happiness and are active in relieving pain.

They are secreted during mental or muscular stress. Such activities include giving birth, playing sports or having sex, as another good tip for relieving stress. Their production is also promoted by eating the aforementioned chocolate.

A large number of athletes, especially endurance runners, start to feel discomfort during physical exertion. They find it harder to breathe, their legs feel heavy, their hips sting. After a while, by continuing this activity, they start to release endorphins. They catch their second wind. They start to feel better and feel the joy of running.

Of course, there are different sports activities. There are almost no limits to the choices that everyone can make. You don't have to be a top athlete to take part in a physical activity. A little is enough at first. Then it's up to each individual to decide which path to take. Whether they'll be satisfied with their current activity or continue to develop their skills.

However, the rule of thumb is to do sport at least 3 times a week, for at least 30 minutes. Even at this frequency, if regularity is maintained, the body starts to adapt to the load. It is necessary to be patient. The first results start to appear after 4 to 6 weeks.

Before any sporting activity, it is necessary to warm up the muscles and warm up the skeletal system with a warm-up. It should last at least 5 minutes. It serves to activate the muscles, which are then more flexible and ready for the load.

This helps to prevent injuries. Drinking during the sport itself is important, especially on warm days. It is important to drink at least 20 minutes before exercise, because it is only after this time that we benefit from the water we have drunk.

Running is an ideal stress reliever, but it is not for everyone. Overweight people in particular should avoid it at first, as it could have a detrimental effect on their musculoskeletal system.

For them, cycling is ideal. It is important to choose the right footwear, which should be both flexible and sturdy. Simply sports shoes designed for running. There are plenty of them in sporting goods stores, as well as helpful staff who can advise.

It is a good idea to choose a suitable surface and environment for running. A grassy surface is fine. However, if it is not completely flat, there is a risk of various musculoskeletal injuries, such as sprained ankles and knees. Asphalt or concrete are flat, but too hard, and the knee and hip joints are particularly affected.

Couple walking on a nature trail. Holding each other around the waist. Green trees. Green grass.
Sometimes even a simple walk can relieve stress better than anything else. Source: Thinkstock

Running in the city, somewhere alongside a road full of cars, is particularly damaging to our lungs.

The most ideal surface is tartan and the best place is an athletics stadium or a school playground. Not everyone has such possibilities, however. That is why beaten forest paths or parks can be good. There is room for everyone and away from the noise of city traffic.

Swimming is another way to relieve stress, especially in summer. Swimming pools with professional supervision are ideal.

Open bodies of water should be avoided, especially by less experienced swimmers. Here it is doubly important not to overestimate your strength. Especially on hot days, one should observe a gradual entry into the water. It is best to take an adaptive shower bath before entering the pool.

Swimming is also suitable for people who are overweight or have musculoskeletal or spinal conditions. The water helps to take the weight off the body and thus protects the joints. They are freed from the shocks that affect them when running.

Water creates pressure on the body, which helps to better circulate the muscles and gets the lymph flowing. This is part of the lymphatic system, which is an important part of the immune system. The lymphatic system breaks down the toxic products of the body's metabolic processes.

The resistance of water, which the body has to overcome, strengthens the muscular system.

Water can therefore also be used for various strengthening exercises such as water aerobics. The resistance of water is about 12 times higher than the resistance of air.

Its ideal temperature is around 28 degrees. Water that is too warm increases the strain on the cardiovascular system.

The water level should be up to shoulder height. Here too, it is important to take a shower in lukewarm water and to warm up well on the pool shore. Drinking should also not be forgotten.

When exercising in the water, it is important to keep a brisk pace. In the water, our heart rate is about 10 percent lower than during a similar workout on dry land.

We know different types of water exercise.

Aquaerobics mainly focuses on supporting the cardiovascular system.

In aquafitness, the main focus is on strengthening the skeletal-muscular system. Various aids are used in this exercise, such as gloves with floating membranes, foam dumbbells, swimming belts and others.

It is possible to exercise independently without instructors. Running in the water, boxing with the hands, alternating leg kicks, etc. can be applied. There are no limits to the imagination.

Cycling belongs to the category of endurance sports activities. It is also suitable for overweight people as an initial stage in endurance training. Later on, they can switch to running.

The right choice of bike is important, depending on the type of terrain one wants to ride. For example, mountain bikes, road bikes, etc.

The size of the bike should not be forgotten either. All manufacturers have them almost identical. Time should also be spent on the correct bike set-up, handlebars, saddle and so on, so that we feel comfortable when riding the bike.

Poor adjustment can cause undue strain on the spine or arms and associated health complications. Specialist shops can inform and advise on everything.

Muscle and musculoskeletal strengthening belongs to the group of strength or endurance sports activities. We don't have to visit a fitness centre right away if we don't feel like it.

The emergence of new industries and training programmes has opened up great opportunities for people. They can therefore choose the activity that suits them best.

Crossfit is a sport that focuses on developing fitness. It uses different methods of training with and without equipment.

It not only focuses on developing strength, but also endurance, joint mobility, dynamics, coordination, balance and cardiovascular and respiratory system endurance. Therefore, it is designed for people who want to improve their overall fitness and athletic versatility.

Another such sport is the so-called workout. In this activity, you don't even need sports equipment.

In fact, workout is an exercise that uses your own body weight. It consists of various exercises that are performed on public sports fields, mainly on trapeze, bars, ladders and horizontal ladders, among others.

However, it is also possible to exercise without them on the ground. Nowadays, special playgrounds designed for this type of sport are already being built, but a playground with climbing frames is quite sufficient. The emphasis is on developing strength and endurance.

Of course, stress can also be relieved in other sports activities, whether individual or collective.

In all of them, it is important that during them processes take place in the body that positively affect both the physical and psychological state.

The metabolic rate and oxygen flow increase. The blood flow in the brain also increases. This results in us being positively tuned and motivated. The happiness hormones are released and perform their function when we need them.

The key is not to overestimate your strength. Stress needs to be relieved, not created.

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