We all face some stress in our life. However these days it seems that everyone is experiencing an extra amount. While short periods of stress are perfectly normal, ongoing and everyday tension can induce the body’s fight or flight response and become harmful over time.
From causing migraines and gut problems, to an increased risk of disease (a result of the bad habits chronic stress causes, such as junk food, lack of sleep and exercise), in the long run, stress takes a big tool on both your body and mind.
Luckily, today you will learn to recognize a few red flags that are tell-tale signs of chronic stress, and some ideas on how to deal with them effectively.
What are the clear symptoms of chronic stress?
Stress can induce both physical and psychological symptoms. Once it becomes chronic, these symptoms begin to disturb your daily life.
Here are some short-term effects you may experience if you’re under stress:
Frequent colds and infections
Overtime these short-term symptoms place a lot of pressure on your body. They may trigger or worsen many medical and mental health conditions, including:
Obesity and anorexia: Stress can lead to overeating, but also cravings for the so called “comfort foods” that are very high in sugar and fat. On the opposite side, stress can also induce a loss of appetite, which may lead to anorexia.
Immunity disorders: Being under chronic stress for long periods of time can literally demolish the autoimmune system. Conditions that may arise include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroiditis, and many others.
Respiratory problems: Chronic stress can make breathing problems induced by asthma or any other respiratory related disease, ten times worse. On top of that, stress makes you also more susceptible to colds, which can further complicate things.
Cardiovascular conditions: Prolonged stress spikes blood pressure and may cause inflammation of the coronary arteries, which leads to an increased chance of heart attacks, and many other cardiovascular problems.
Depression and anxiety: Research has found that big stressful events such as unemployment, divorce, medical conditions, and other stressful things, can in fact trigger major depression as well as anxiety.
Alcohol and drugs: Coping with stress is not easy. And with time people often turn to alcohol and drugs for relief, which provide only temporary comfort. They are never the right answer.
Cancer: There is a tight link between stress and cancer. In fact, chronic stress is proven to lead people towards bad behaviors such as smoking, overrating, and alcohol. All of these increase the risk of cancer.
How do you relieve stress?
It is first important to determine the situations which are causing chronic stress. For example, if your job is too stressful, maybe you should consider quitting and finding a different position that will make you happy.
However, there will be times when you’re not going to be able to eliminate the source of stress. Family conflicts, financial problems, and work troubles don’t always have simple solutions. In times such as these, it is crucial to care for yourself so that you’ll have the necessary strength to push through.
When you are under stress, you are more likely to make poor lifestyle decisions. You may eat unhealthy, get less sleep or use alcohol excessively. Be that as it may, once you recognize the symptoms of stress, you can make simple changes to help you cope better.
Here are some tips that will help you win the battle against chronic stress:
Exercise: The number one tool against stress is definitely exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’re lifting weights, doing cardio, or playing some type of sport, the moving part is what counts. After your workout the burden of stress will be released, and you will feel great.
Spirituality: You can practice mindfulness formally through prayer. Practice mindfulness informally by simply becoming aware of how you feel physically and emotionally in the present time.
Be social: Having a good relationship with your family and friends is vital if you’re looking to beat stress. Talking, having fun, and being more social will make you forget about stress, bringing you into a more relaxed state.
Sleep well: Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is crucial for your physical and emotional health. Make a sleep schedule and go to bed at the same time each night, this way you’ll make it a habit.
Talk to your therapist: Your therapist or doctor can help you incorporate these strategies to manage stress more effectively in your daily life.
Stress is unfortunately something universal that we all deal with in one form or another. However, when you understand the cause of stress and how you can manage it, the negative effects of it can be minimized.
It is just important to recognize the symptoms, take a deep breath, and do something in the moment that will help you calm down. Practicing this over and over again will help you tremendously over time.