Stress: Physical activity can help control the problem

Stress: Physical activity can help control the problem
Stress: Physical activity can help control the problem

September 23 is World Stress Day. The date aims to raise awareness of this problem that can cause harm to the well-being and quality of life of individuals.

Stress is caused by several factors, which can be external or internal, and can trigger symptoms such as apprehension, fatigue, physical and mental restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, among others.

In general, stress is a natural reaction of the organism that arises when we are faced with a danger or a threat.

Cortisol can be considered a hormone directly related to stress, since it is released in the body to prepare us to deal with situations involving threats or crises.

According to Marcus Zanetti, p.siquiatra and PhD in Sciences from the Faculty of Medicine of USP, stress is “defined as a state of threat to the homeostatic balance of the organism, triggered by different external or internal factors, real or perceived, and which are called stressors”.

Regarding “stressors”, the doctor clarifies that there are several in our life, and they can be of different natures and often unpredictable. “People differ in their ability to manage stressful situations and also in their predisposition to develop mental disorders when faced with an adverse situation.”

Therefore, it is essential that people know the importance of managing stress in order to enjoy well-being. “It is essential to realize that our mind has an automatism and that many people do not understand this natural movement of our mind, allowing themselves to be carried away by exaggerated concerns and distorted beliefs in a non-reflective way”, he begins.

“Often, it is not the situation itself that generates anxiety, but the interpretations of the situation that determine feelings, physiological reactions and behaviors, amplifying the stress response. This is the focus of intervention of most psychotherapy techniques”, adds the doctor, emphasizing the importance of counting on the help of mental health professionals to deal with stress.

Help from healthcare professionals

According to him, psychiatrists and psychologists can help patients in several ways:

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“Educating about the stress response process, its associated factors and emotional self-regulation techniques, assessing the existence of a mental disorder and guiding the appropriate treatment, which can include from guidelines aimed at improving life habits, psychotherapy and, eventually, pharmacological treatment, when indicated”.

When dealing with stress, the individual may develop anxiety and have to face an uncomfortable emotional state.

“People with low anxiety tend to be more passive, for example. At the other extreme, anxious people can present a disproportionate/exaggerated reaction to stress, sometimes occurring persistently even in the absence of a stressor or when it has ceased to exist”, explains the psychiatrist.


When stress is not properly treated, it tends to have negative consequences for the physical health of those affected, favoring the emergence of autoimmune, dermatological, gastrointestinal and other diseases.

“Chronic stress tends to evolve into a state of burnout or even depression. In addition, it has a very negative impact on different physiological systems of the body and can contribute to the development of different health conditions, including autoimmune, dermatological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal diseases, chronic pain, metabolic syndrome and cancer.”

Marcus Zanetti warns that stress also damages mental health. “Stress is a non-specific trigger for the worsening of virtually all mental disorders, e.g. depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.”

Tips for dealing with the problem

To deal with this problem, it is essential to maintain healthy lifestyle habits, such as having a balanced diet, exercising and having good sleep hygiene.

In terms of food, it is recommended to prioritize the consumption of vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, grains, nuts, fruits, olive oil, chicken, fish and avoid refined foods, margarine, fried foods and sweets.

In addition to helping to control stress, physical activity is an ally to minimize the impacts it can cause on the body, because, according to the doctor, it “stimulates the production of endorphins and neurotrophins in the brain, improving mood, exerts positive effects on the cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems and improves hormonal and metabolic response, with positive effects on emotional and cognition.”

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Stress Physical activity control problem

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