The effects of chronic stress are becoming more widely known as it is being shown to have a significant negative effect on an individual’s physical and mental health and well-being. Chronic stress is commonly associated with insomnia, poor sleep quality, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and increased insulin resistance. Although most people experience some level of stress in their lives, those who deal with chronic stress have a much higher risk of developing serious medical conditions. It can lead to heart disease, strokes, and even cancer.
Many people who are dealing with chronic stress tend to stay in bad moods, have lower self-esteem, experience difficulty concentrating, have constant pain in the joints, and find it hard to be successful in their careers or relationships. These debilitating impacts of chronic stress are related to a series of negative changes in the way you think, feel, and behave. A constant state of anxiety about your physical health and/or mental health leaves you with few choices. You either try to ignore the problems, or you try to make yourself do everything right. If you’re trying to ignore the problem, you’ll continue to build up your anxiety, which makes you less effective at solving the problem that’s bothering you. And if you’re trying to make yourself do everything right, you may actually be setting yourself up to fail and causing even more harm than good.1
By adopting a state of mindfulness, one can both address and treat the negative impacts of chronic stress. Mindfulness is defined as paying attention to the present moment, without judging it, creating wishful thinking, or becoming anxious about the future. By adopting this state of mindfulness regularly, you can address the many impacts of chronic stress without turning to medications such as anxiety or depression drugs. In fact, simply learning some of the guidelines for a mindful living can help you get through your day more effectively and reduce the amount of stress that you experience on a daily basis. In addition, these techniques can help you manage and even eliminate anxiety and depression-related issues.
What is Chronic Stress?
Well, stress has many definitions but chronic stress seems to be one of the most common and serious types of stress that people suffer from. Chronic stress is an abnormal and persistent state of stress which can negatively impact your overall health if it is not addressed. The human body is always in a continuous arousal state known as the fight or flight reaction.2
When your body experiences a stressor situation, the fight or flight reaction takes over and your body becomes physically and physiologically prepared to either fight or run away. Unfortunately, because this physiological response is automatic and occurs almost automatically, the stress lasts for much longer periods of time than you may realize.3 After the initial arousal has worn off, chronic stress will usually leave you in a chronically stressed state and may trigger the fight or flight response repeatedly. This causes an ongoing cycle of stress and tension that may also lead to depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental illnesses in today’s society.
Many of our health conditions and disorders stem from the way we react to stressful situations in our lives. For example, researchers have found that people who suffer from chronic stress may be suffering from a biological response that is overreacting to perceived threatening situations. These people may be experiencing chronic stress due to being in certain social and economic situations for long periods of time. In these situations, their bodies are continually exposed to stressful situations and they have a difficult time dealing with them because their bodies are trained to react in a certain way. When you find yourself constantly in the middle of an intense situation, whether it is work, school, family issues, or a social situation, you may be exhibiting signs of chronic stress, which should not be ignored.4
What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Stress?
Do you know what are the symptoms of chronic stress? I’m sure if you are like most people, the answer is no. Chronic stress has many symptoms that you may not be aware of. Most people associate chronic stress with heart disease and stroke, but this is far from the truth. Many different stresses can cause symptoms and the signs of these symptoms can be very similar to those of heart disease and stroke.5
Stress causes the body to go into a constant state of arousal. This arousal process causes all of the systems in your body to work at a higher level of efficiency. One of these systems is the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The Autonomic Nervous System controls the major organs of the body and is primarily divided into two subsystems; the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Central Nervous System (CNS). The Sympathetic Nervous System is directly connected to the physical symptoms of stress such as palpitations, sweating, headaches, muscle tension, and shortness of breath.6
Another important area that is directly affected by the signs of chronic stress is the emotional level of the individual. When individuals deal with chronic stress, they consistently find themselves in an emotional state that is consistent with feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, and other similar emotions. When individuals are constantly exposed to emotional stressors, their bodies will continue to operate at a higher level of efficiency than is needed.7
Stress can also lead to substance abuse if the individual is not able to recognize when they are overwhelmed and not capable of dealing with it on their own. When an individual is dealing with stress, they often turn to alcohol or drugs in order to numb the pain and to make it go away. This may be effective for a while, but in the end, the addict is likely to return to their problem even though they have returned to “tough” mode. An HIV care provider should be aware that some individuals who are struggling with stress may begin to take drugs and alcohol in order to cope with their emotions and to cover up their unhappiness and frustration.
Some of the other signs of chronic stress that you should be concerned with include emotional numbing, oversleeping, chronic sleep problems, and irritability. If your work or school has been disrupted due to a number of factors, including the death of a loved one or pet, you are more likely to have emotional numbing problems. Overwhelming feelings of anger and frustration can take a toll on an individual, and these feelings are likely to lead to the use of drugs and/or alcohol in order to numb the pain. When it comes to the issue of insomnia, many individuals who are dealing with stress tend to skip meals and sleep less. Insomnia is one of the symptoms of chronic stress.8
Another sign of ongoing stress that should be a cause for concern is irritability. Irritability can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease and stroke, so if you find that your emotional support is drying up, you might benefit from learning some basic anger management skills.9 Learning how to express yourself and how to deal with frustration, both short-term and long-term, can provide emotional support and help with stress management. Finally, you may find that you have trouble relaxing. Relaxation, which includes deep breathing exercises and yoga, can be a great way to deal with long-term stress, and it can provide emotional support as well.
What Types of People Get Chronic Stress?
Many people today, especially women and children, deal with the effects of chronic stress. The first question that must be answered when it comes to understanding chronic stress is, “What types of people are most likely to develop chronic stress?” The answer to this question depends on the person, their physical and emotional health, and the amount of stress that they are exposed to on a daily basis. Women, for example, are more likely to develop chronic stress if they are married or have children, but the reasons for this are not clear.10
Other common types of people who develop chronic stress are those who have very low self-esteem or have suffered abuse in the past. People who belong to minority groups are also more likely to develop chronic stress because members of these groups face discrimination on a daily basis. The causes of chronic stress are varied and many; however, the results can be devastating to some individuals. This type of stress can lead to depression, anxiety disorders, and other physical ailments that can negatively affect a person’s quality of life.11
Some of the most effective ways to combat chronic stress are through lifestyle changes and by using stress management techniques such as meditation and yoga. In addition to these practices, making sure that you are getting plenty of sleep and avoiding alcohol and other substance abuse can also help to reduce your level of stress. If you are dealing with chronic stress in your life, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce the amount of stress that you experience. Make sure that you are keeping your stress levels at a healthy level by exercising regularly, taking vitamins, and eating a balanced diet. If you think that you may be suffering from chronic stress, there are a variety of options for treatment. Your doctor can give you the information that you need to begin the healing process and to improve the quality of your life.
How Do You Know If You Have Chronic Stress?
How do you know if you have Chronic Stress? For most people, the answer is they do not know. Stress is the body’s way of reacting to any form of threat or demand. When you feel danger whether it’s imaginary or real, the body’s defense systems kick into high gear causing the body to experience what is called a stress reaction. Chronic stress is different from the occasional feeling of stress that we experience in our everyday lives but does not go away as often as the other types of stress.
A chronic response to stress can be found in people who constantly feel like they are under pressure and that there is nothing they can really do to stop it. They may also be overworked and stressed out and they may be suffering from the effects of environmental issues such as pollution and aging which can cause the body to react in unexpected ways to stress. The effects of how you know if you have chronic stress may also be due to the person’s genes as well as how they interact with their environment.
The good news is that there are many treatment options available for those who suffer from chronic stress and anxiety. There is a lot of research going on to find the root causes and triggers of how you know if you have Chronic Stress and how to prevent it from happening to you as well as how to deal with it should it occur. There are a number of treatment options including some that are quite expensive such as psychotherapy and medication, but there are also a number of natural remedies that are gaining popularity as well.12 In addition to traditional methods of treating the symptoms of chronic stress, some people are trying certain alternative methods such as acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, and meditation which may help improve overall health as well as treat the source of their stress.
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1 “The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the … – NCBI.” 1 Nov. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5137920/ Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
2 “Chronic Stress > Fact Sheets > Yale Medicine.” https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/stress-disorder Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
3 “Stress won’t go away? Maybe you are suffering from chronic stress.” 25 Oct. 2019, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/chronic Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
4 “Chronic stress: Symptoms, health effects, and how to manage it.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323324 Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
5 “Stress Symptoms: Physical Effects of Stress on the Body – WebMD.” 1 Aug. 2019, https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
6 “Chronic stress: Symptoms, health effects, and how to manage it.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323324 Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
7 “11 Signs and Symptoms of Too Much Stress – Healthline.” 7 Jan. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/symptoms-of-stress Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
8 “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior – Mayo Clinic.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987 Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
9 “What causes irritability? Symptoms, severity, and treatments.” 26 Jun. 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325564 Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
10 “The 3 Different Types of Stress and How Each Can Affect Our Health.” 18 May. 2021, https://www.flushinghospital.org/newsletter/the-3-different-types-of-stress-and-how-each-can-affect-our-health/ Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
11 “3 Types of Stress and Health Hazards – Shawna Freshwater, PhD.” 17 Jan. 2018, https://spacioustherapy.com/3-types-stress-health-hazards/ Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.
12 “Psychotherapy: Definition, Types, Techniques, Efficacy – Verywell Mind.” 19 Feb. 2021, https://www.verywellmind.com/psychotherapy-4157172 Accessed 8 Sep. 2021.