Chronic Stress & It’s Effect On Your Health
Chronic stress is a condition in which a person deals with prolonged and constant stress. This long-term stress, if left untreated, can have negative effects on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Stress can be caused by numerous situations – from daily stressors to traumatic situations.
Chronic stress follows when our body experiences stressors with an intensity that causes our nervous system to fail in presenting a relaxation response on time. This means that our body and mind gets stuck in a constant state of psychological distress.
An average human has the ability to handle short-term stress or acute stress but not chronic stress. Prolonged stress can cause severe harm to our overall well being and takes away our ability to function effectively on a daily basis.
Symptoms Of Chronic Stress
Symptoms of chronic stress can be:
- Frequent headaches and pains
- Low energy
- Trouble sleeping
- A constant state of fatigue
- Loss of control over thoughts
- Feelings of helplessness
- Getting sick frequently
- Digestive problems
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Trouble concentrating
It can be rather difficult to diagnose chronic stress but if you or someone you know are showing these symptoms quite regularly then it is recommended to consult a mental healthcare professional for more information.
Causes Of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress can occur from our daily stressors to traumatic events. Job changes, workplace performance, and loneliness can all cause chronic stress. Our flight-or-fight response, which is responsible to help us during life-threatening and stressful situations, can cause us weariness and illness – either mental or physical.
Stress is one of the common reasons people seek treatment for various conditions. Learning to manage stress at an early stage and making healthy lifestyle choices can help you deal with chronic or prolonged stress.
Long-Term Effects Of Stress On Our Health
Chronic stress can not only affect our mental and emotional health but it can also have an adverse effect on our physical health. Stress can cause:
- Constant headaches
- Chronic pain and aches
- Increased risk of infections
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Hormonal changes
- Digestive issues
- Weight loss/gain
- Loss/gain in appetite
- Higher risk of depression and depressive episodes
- Increased risk of heart diseases
- High blood pressure
These are only some effects chronic stress can have on our body and health. Chronic stress can also affect our ability to make smart decisions, focus on the task at hand, job performance, and the ability to function normally.
How To Cope With Chronic Stress
There are treatment options available such as:
1. Psychotherapy: Approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can help.
2. Medications: Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help treat symptoms of chronic stress. However, consult a physician before taking any medications.
There are some other self-help ways you can manage and cope with chronic stress:
1. Set boundaries for yourself:
It is important that you limit your tasks to what you can handle at a time. Set your priorities right and focus on them. Delegate your tasks to others, if necessary but limit yourself to doing tasks that cut back on your stressors.
2. Get enough sleep:
If your body is not fully rested and your mind not recharged rough, you’ll feel more stressed than others. Make and stick to a bedtime schedule. Try some relaxation exercises before bed and try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night.
3. Practice deep breathing:
Deep breathing or belly breathing exercises can help you release tension in your muscles and can help you control your breathing. It is one of the best stress management techniques you can learn to manage stress.
4. Release endorphins:
Endorphins are our body’s natural pain-killers and they help induce feelings of pleasure and happiness. When you’re stressed, take a walk, dance, or something that makes you feel happy. When endorphins are released, our stress levels are reduced.
If any of these self-help techniques don’t seem to help you, then it is recommended that you reach out to a professional therapist for help. Taking small steps to reduce your stress can help you control your stressors in the future and reduce the chances of you developing chronic stress.
Stress is a part of our everyday life but knowing how to handle and effectively manage stress can prevent you from developing physical and psychological conditions. Chronic stress can seriously affect your overall well-being and quality of life. Learning how to control your stressors is important.
“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” – Wayne Dyer
Take a deep breath, smile, and let go…