Everyone experiences stress in their daily lives. It’s the feeling you get when you’re running late for work or have a project you need to finish by a particular deadline. Some forms of stress can be positive — such as the feelings you experience when you’re preparing for your upcoming wedding. Others, however, can be negative and take a serious mental and physical toll on your body. Some examples might include dealing with a long-term illness or financial problems.
Some forms of negative stress are short-lived and can be managed by taking specific action — such as staying up late to complete a task or asking for help when your car runs out of gas. Other forms known as chronic stress take place over a long period of time and it can have an overwhelming and debilitating effect on your wellbeing. If you have been under chronic stress and it’s affecting your physical and mental health, it’s important to get help. Contact Blair Wellness Group for stress management therapy in Los Angeles.
What Is Chronic Stress?
To better understand chronic stress, it’s important to first take a look at stress in general. Stress is a normal human response to changes or challenges. It’s how our bodies react and adjust to anything that requires attention. A stressful situation that is perceived as something that will lead to a positive outcome is known as good stress or eustress. An example of eustress might be getting ready for your first day at a new job or the anticipation felt when buying a new home. Most people don’t spend much time thinking about the good stress in their lives because it’s often temporary and leads to a desirable outcome. The other form of stress, however, can cause negative physical and emotional responses that are both unpleasant and not good for your health.
There are two different types of bad stress — acute and chronic. Acute stress is a response to something that happens quickly and often unexpectedly. It also tends to be short-lived so you generally don’t have to deal with it for very long. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is something that’s constant and inescapable. Being in a bad marriage, having an unfulfilling and high-stress job, or living through a year-long global pandemic are just a few examples of situations that can keep your body in a constant state of activated stress.
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Causes of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is something that is becoming increasingly frequent in today’s modern society. The pressure to succeed in the workplace, raise the perfect family, and live a particular lifestyle creates ongoing stress that wears down your body, making you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. In some cases, prolonged stress can even contribute to serious health issues such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
If you are suffering from chronic stress, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your feelings and identify the root cause of your problems. Some stressors, such as dealing with a loved one’s illness, cannot be changed or completely avoided but knowing what it is that is having an effect on your mental and physical wellness can give you the clarity you need to either change your circumstances, if possible, or at the very least adopt effective methods for coping.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress
At the most basic level, stress triggers a protective response in your body as a means of protecting itself from a perceived threat. That response involves releasing hormones that make your brain more alert, increasing your pulse, and causing your muscles to tense. When a person is dealing with chronic stress, having their body in this constant state of “high alert” can eventually take its toll, causing both physical and psychological symptoms.
- Anger issues
- Panic attacks
- Lack of energy or focus
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
- Aches and pains
- Increased heart rate or chest pain
In addition to these oftentimes short-term physical symptoms, there are also some more serious health conditions that can develop as a result of long-term stress. Some of those include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Hair loss
- Sexual dysfunction
Complications From Chronic Stress
In addition to the physical and mental problems stress can cause, there are also maladaptive coping mechanisms that can contribute to additional complications. People who feel as though they are under constant stress and see no way to remedy their situation or get relief will often turn to unhealthy means of coping such as alcohol, drugs, overeating, smoking, or other forms of addiction. Although these methods may offer some temporary relief, they usually create more issues, which lead to additional stress.
Managing Chronic Stress
You may not be able to avoid stress entirely, but it’s important to seek healthy forms of stress relief so you can better cope and not feel so overwhelmed. The following are some effective self-help strategies.
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