Most individuals experience stress from time to time. Stress can be thought of as a mental and physical reaction due to a certain event. Experiencing stress is normal, and small amounts of stress is not generally harmful. However, some people may find themselves in a state of constant overwhelm, which can be referred to as chronic stress.
In this article we will take a look at some potential causes of chronic stress, signs that may indicate the presence of chronic stress, how it can negatively impact an individual’s mental and physical health, and several strategies for healthy stress management.
What Causes Chronic Stress?
There are many potential sources that can trigger stress, from the demands of schoolwork or the workplaceand the complexity of human relationships. According to Yale Medicine, when an individual feels stuck in an undesirable situation, this could contribute to chronic stress. This could look like remaining in a toxic workplace or a job that is unsatisfying, experiencing ongoing difficulties in a relationship with a significant other or family member, or living in poverty.
Identifying the Warning Signs of Chronic Stress
Stress can show up in a wide variety of ways, whether in an individual’s thinking, emotions, body or behavior. While stress often manifests differently in each person, some general signs and symptoms that may indicate chronic stress include:
- Frequent aches and pains (such as headaches, neck/back pain, etc.)
- Digestive issues
- Increased feelings of anxiety, sadness, irritability or anger
- Sleep disturbances
- Fatigue and reduced energy levels
- Change in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased substance use
- Withdrawal from others
The Consequences of Chronic Stress
There are many ways in which elevated stress levels over a significant period of time can wreak havoc on an individual’s health and well-being. Not only can persistent stress spur undesired symptoms, it can also contribute to the development of disease. Stress impacts various systems of the body, impacting everything from our immune system to cardiovascular health and gastrointestinal function. It is also possible for stress to play a role in the development of a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression.
For more information on stress and other mental health topics, visit https://www.betterhelp.com/ca/stress/.
5 Strategies for Stress Management
If you believe you might be experiencing chronic stress, you might consider the following strategies that may help to reduce stress levels and improve your well-being:
- Identifying your personal triggers and signs of stress. Noticing what situations trigger stress and how it impacts you can be an important first step towards being able to manage when your stress levels are high.
- Take care of your physical health. Following a balanced, nutritious diet, engaging in regular exercise, and getting adequate sleep all play a role in positive mental health.
- Engage in relaxing activities. Practicing meditation, deep breathing, or muscle relaxation techniques, or setting aside the time for calming hobbies- like listening to music, reading, etc-are all ways to keep stress levels in check.
- Utilize time management strategies. Planning ahead, following a daily schedule, and prioritizing tasks are methods that may help an individual to feel less overwhelmed by all that they have to get done. It is also important to set boundaries with others to avoid taking on more responsibilities than you feel comfortable with.
- Seek support. Reaching out to friends and family to process what you are experiencing provides a healthy outlet for managing stress. If you feel like you may benefit from talking with a mental health professional about the chronic stress you are facing, don’t hesitate to reach out. A licensed therapist can help you to develop new strategies for addressing the stressors in your life and managing stress in a healthy way.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
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