Identifying and Treating Chronic Stress for a Healthier and Happier Life





While a little bit of daily stress is normal, chronic stress can lead to a host of long-term health problems down the road. This type of unrelenting stress and anxiety can exert a significant toll on both your physical and mental health. Fortunately, you can get the effects of stress under control with the right recognition and preventative steps.

Defining Stress



The body's natural response to stress is known as the fight or flight response. This response helps the body to get ready for incoming stress by releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones work to ready the body for what lies ahead by improving mental acuity, increasing the heart rate, and more.

This type of acute stress comes and goes based on the situation and is not generally considered to be a threat to your overall health. However, stress that does not disappear with the external situation is not as healthy. This type of chronic stress keeps your body in a constant state of anxiousness even if it is not necessary.

Chronic Stress and its Effects



Stress that does not abate over a period of weeks or months is defined as chronic in nature. It is this type of stress that delivers negative impacts on your health. One of the most common ways that chronic stress manifests itself is through high blood pressure. This hypertension raises the risk of other health issues, including stroke and heart attack.

In addition, the frequent release of cortisol when the body is under stress may also cause a person to crave carbohydrates, fatty foods, and sweets. This pattern of eating can in turn increase the odds that you develop additional disease and illness while also leading to obesity.

Chronic stress may also negatively affect your mental health. It has been shown that people who experience chronic stress are also more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression.

Chronic Stress Signs and Symptoms



There are a number of signs and symptoms to watch out for if you believe that you may be suffering from chronic stress. Fatigue, insomnia, or the desire to sleep all of the time are some of the most common signs of chronic stress. Many people also experience irritability and sexual dysfunction if they cannot get the stress in their lives under control.

General pain such as headaches or stiffness and tension in the muscles is another tell-tale sign of chronic stress. Those with chronic stress issues often experience digestive problems such as nausea, frequent diarrhea, or constipation.

How You Can Manage Chronic Stress



The good news is that there are a variety of ways that you can manage this chronic stress so that it is not a significant disruption to your life or a hindrance to your health. The first thing to start is a regular exercise routine. Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins, helping you to manage your stress more effectively and efficiently.

In addition to cardio exercises such as running or swimming, you can also try low-impact movements such as yoga or tai-chi. When combined with deep breathing, these types of exercises can help you to relax both your mind and your body.

It is also vital to make sleep a priority in your life if you are looking to manage stress. While it can be difficult to find that sweet spot of sleep each night, the efforts can have a profound impact on how you react to the stress that comes your way.

Rather than worrying about things that you cannot change, focus on the parts of your life that you have control over. For example, you may not be able to control the weather on the day of a big event you are planning but you can control how prepared you are for inclement conditions.

Lastly, it is important to forgive yourself when you slip up. Extending grace and forgiveness to others can also make you feel better about yourself, lowering your stress levels in the process.

It is important to remember that not all people will respond to these stress management techniques. It may take a bit of experimenting to find the best technique for your personal needs.



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