What is chronic stress?
Chronic stress is a long-lasting sense of stress that, if left untreated, can have a negative impact on your health. It may be caused by daily stress or traumatic situations at home and work.
Chronic stress occurs when the body is subjected to stressors with such high frequency or intensity that the autonomic nervous system does not have enough opportunities to activate the relaxation response on a regular basis. This means that the body is always in a state of physiological arousal.
This almost directly or indirectly affects every system of the body. People are born to deal with short-term acute stress, not long-term stable chronic stress. In order to start managing chronic stress, it is important to understand what it is, what may cause it, and how it affects the entire body.
Chronic stress affects the body and mind. It produces physical and psychological symptoms, which affect a person’s ability to work normally in daily life.
The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. Some of the most common signs of chronic stress include:
- Aches and pains
- Energy reduction
- hard to fall asleep
- Feeling out of control
- Feeling helpless
- Common diseases and infections
- Stomach upset
- Muscle tension
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Upset stomach
Recognize chronic stress
Recognizing chronic stress is not always easy. Because it is ubiquitous and long-lasting, people are so accustomed to it that they start to feel normal. Some signs to be aware of when recognizing chronic stress:
- Are you often moody or irritable?
- Do you feel that you are always worried about something?
- Do you seem to have no time to take care of yourself or do what you like?
- Does the smallest inconvenience seem difficult to handle?
- Do you always seem to have a cold or infection?
- Have you always relied on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol to manage stress?
This type of chronic stress response often occurs in our modern lifestyle. From high-pressure work to loneliness to heavy traffic, everything puts the body in a state of perceiving threats and chronic stress.
In this situation, our fight or flight response is designed to help us cope with occasional life-threatening situations (such as a sudden turn and almost missed a car accident) that may wear our bodies and cause us to get sick, both physically and emotionally.
Estimates indicate that 60-80% of primary care visits involve stress-related parts. This is why it is so important to learn stress management techniques and change a healthy lifestyle to protect yourself from the negative effects of chronic stress.
Types of chronic stress
The sources of chronic stress may vary, but they usually fall into one of four different types:
- Emotional stress (difficult emotions such as anger, sadness or depression)
- Environmental stress (where you live and work)
- Relationship pressure (your relationship with friends, family, colleagues, partners)
- Work pressure (work-related challenges and pressures)
In many cases, these types of stress can affect multiple areas of a person’s life. Work pressure will put pressure on your relationships. Interpersonal pressure can make it more difficult to manage difficult emotions.
For example, if your family is financially troubled or suffers from a serious illness, the stress may become chronic. Someone in your family may not be able to work, bills are piled up, and your house is about to foreclose, which may put you under pressure for months or even a year or more.
Your constant worry will wear down your body and make you feel tired and anxious. You may work harder than ever to make ends meet and make unhealthy choices in food and exercise, which can make you feel worse. This can cause many major health problems.
We may also have chronic work-related stress. Many jobs place high demands on us, and you often feel that you will never rest or are always under pressure to execute.
Overtime, frequent business trips and high-pressure business relationships will keep your body in a state of excitement, even if you return home to reunite with your family. This will also increase wear and tear on the body, and constant stress can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease.
Since chronic stress lasts for a long time, if left untreated, it will have an adverse effect on your health and well-being. Some of the potential complications associated with chronic stress include:
- heart disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Low libido
- Weight change
Finding ways to manage chronic stress is important to overall well-being. This may involve professional treatment, but self-help and relaxation strategies are usually also effective.
If severe chronic stress causes severe stress or impairs your ability to function normally, professional treatment can help you develop new coping skills and find ways to reduce stress levels. Options include:
- Psychotherapy: Methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you learn to recognize the negative thinking patterns that cause chronic stress. Work with the therapist, and then you can start to transform these ideas into more realistic and helpful ideas. You can also learn coping tools to help you better cope with stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is another method that can help people use mindfulness and meditation to cope with chronic stress.
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe different medications to help you manage certain stress symptoms. If you still experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants. Your doctor may also prescribe medications that can help you fall asleep or relieve stomach upsets.
Chronic stress can usually be managed through self-help methods. When you recognize chronic stress in your life, it is important to start using stress management techniques as early as possible. There are several reasons for this.
- Quickly relieve stress: Quick-acting techniques can reverse the stress response and give your body a chance to recover. Your mind can deal with problems from a proactive standpoint instead of responding from a stress or even panic angle. When you make a choice in a more relaxed and confident place, you tend to make choices that are more in your best interests and avoid putting more pressure on yourself.
- Cultivate stress resistance: Long-term healthy habits are also important because they can enhance stress resistance and give you the opportunity to get rid of stress regularly. This can help you avoid too much stress so that you don’t realize how stressful you are, which prevents you from taking steps to reduce the stress in your life. It can also protect you from the negative effects of chronic stress.Some of the most effective habits include exercise, meditation, and journaling, as they have been shown to improve resilience to stress
- Create new coping skills: Changing the way you react to stress can also help.Take steps to reduce the stressful situation you face (say No For example, more frequently) and changing your perspective (reminding yourself of the resources you can use and the power you have) can help. Responding to stress from a proactive standpoint can help reduce chronic stress.
If you have tried self-help strategies and feel that you need more help, or if you feel that these are not enough to help, please do not hesitate to talk to your doctor about your concerns. Can get effective help.