What Is Chronic Stress?

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What Is Chronic Stress?

Chronic stress is a prolonged and constant feeling of stress that can negatively affect your health if it goes untreated. It can be caused by the everyday pressures of family and work or by traumatic situations.

 

Chronic stress occurs when the body experiences stressors with such frequency or intensity that the autonomic nervous system does not have an adequate chance to activate the relaxation response on a regular basis. This means that the body remains in a constant state of physiological arousal.

 

This affects virtually every system in the body, either directly or indirectly. People were built to handle acute stress, which is short-lived, but not chronic stress, which is steady over a long period of time. In order to begin managing chronic stress, it is important to understand what it is, what may be causing it, and how it affects the entire body.

 

Symptoms

Chronic stress affects both the mind and body. It produces both physical and psychological symptoms that can take a toll on a person's ability to function normally in their daily life.

 

These symptoms can vary in their severity from one person to the next. Some of the most common signs of chronic stress include:

 
  • Aches and pains
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Frequent illnesses and infections
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Upset stomach
 

Identifying Chronic Stress

It isn't always easy to recognize chronic stress. Because it is pervasive and long-lasting, people often grow so accustomed to it that it begins to feel normal. Some signs to look for when identifying chronic stress:

  • Are you often moody or irritated?
  • Does it feel like you are always worrying about something?
  • Does it seem like you don't have time to take care of yourself or do the things that you enjoy? 
  • Do the smallest inconveniences seem like too much to handle?
  • Do you always seem to catch colds or get infections?
  • Have you been relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol to manage your stress?

Causes

This type of chronic stress response occurs all too frequently from our modern lifestyle. Everything from high-pressured jobs to loneliness to busy traffic can keep the body in a state of the perceived threat and chronic stress.

 

In this case, our fight-or-flight response, which was designed to help us fight occasional life-threatening situations (like swerving to nearly miss a car crash), can wear down our bodies and cause us to become ill, either physically or emotionally.

 

Estimates suggest that between 60—80% of primary care visits involve a stress-related component.1

 

 That's why it is so important to learn stress management techniques and make healthy lifestyle changes to safeguard yourself from the negative impact of chronic stress.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2022

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