Stress, friend and enemy

Stress is actually just tension. You always need a little tension to perform / operate well. Many different situations can cause stress. A high work pressure is a fairly well-known example, but also illness or death of a loved one can cause a lot of stress. Yet not everyone is equally sensitive to stress. This has to do with the balance between the tolerance capacity you have and the burden you will have to endure. Having a high tolerance capacity, you can handle more or larger stressful situations than having a low tolerance capacity.

Everything you encounter, such as a high workload, illness, problems at work, an argument with your spouse or money problems can be seen as a burden. Tolerance capacity on the other hand is about your mental resilience: are you an optimistic person, can you handle disappointments well, do you not panic in conflict situations.

When you’re stressed, the burden you have to carry is heavier than your tolerance capacity. This imbalance creates stress.

Stress and Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

HRV, or Heart Rate Variability, is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. Through the HRV, you can measure stress in a simple, fast and reliable way. The heartbeat becomes visible as a series of lines that quickly go up and down vertically, with the so-called R-peak being the highest peak.

The time between these so-called R-peaks is measured. What we see, is that the time between these R-peaks is not always the same. Under the influence of our breath, it regularly increases and decreases. When you breathe in, our heart rate goes up and the R-tops come closer together. When we exhale, our heartbeat drops, and the R-peaks fall further apart. How fast and how much these R-peaks vary is measured and processed into a solution by means of mathematical formulas. This solution is the HRV. And the higher your HRV, the better you will be.

How we can help

Your automatic reflex when you’re stressed, is to lower your burden:  doing less than usual. And, although this seems to help in the short term, in the long term it is not useful.

If you make a habit of reducing your burden instead of increasing your tolerance capacity, then inevitably there will be a moment when you can no longer bear anything. And that’s your burn-out. So, it is therefore important to increase your tolerance capacity.

Lesstress offers a number of programs where you can improve the HRV with the aid of breathing, thereby reducing stress and increasing your resilience. Once learned, you will benefit from that for your entire life!