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Surefire Ways To Know You’re Suffering From Chronic Stress

Surefire Ways To Know You’re Suffering From Chronic Stress

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hronic stress is a prolonged state of mental or emotional strain that persists over an extended period of time. We might not know, but our bodies keep scores. Eventually, it shows up and demands you pay what you owe. Hence the popular saying, “You can’t cheat nature”. Unlike acute stress, which is a short-term response to a specific event or situation, chronic stress can linger for weeks, months, or even years. It often results from ongoing pressures, such as work demands, financial difficulties, relationship problems, or chronic health conditions.

Chronic stress can have significant negative effects on both physical and mental health, including increased risk of anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, digestive issues, weakened immune function, and insomnia. Managing chronic stress involves adopting healthy coping strategies, seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals, and making lifestyle changes to reduce stressors where possible.

Signs of chronic stress

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The signs of chronic stress can manifest in various ways, affecting both the mind and body. It includes:

  • Physical symptoms: These may include headaches, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues (such as stomachaches or diarrhea), frequent illness or infections due to weakened immune function, changes in appetite, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Emotional symptoms: Chronic stress can lead to emotional changes like irritability, mood swings, anxiety, feelings of overwhelm or helplessness, constant worry, difficulty relaxing, and a lack of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities.
  • Cognitive symptoms: Chronic stress may impair cognitive function, leading to difficulty concentrating, memory problems, racing thoughts, indecisiveness, and decreased productivity or performance at work or school.
  • Behavioral symptoms: Individuals experiencing chronic stress may engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating or undereating, substance abuse (e.g., alcohol or drugs), withdrawal from social activities, procrastination, or neglecting responsibilities.
  • Physical manifestations: Chronic stress can also manifest in physical symptoms like hair loss, skin problems (e.g., acne or eczema flare-ups), clenched jaw or teeth grinding, and even changes in menstrual cycles for women.

Recognizing these signs and symptoms is essential for identifying and addressing chronic stress. What about how to prevent or even manage the condition?

Here are some tips to help prevent and manage chronic stress

surefire-ways-to-know-youre-suffering-from-chronic-stress
Photo: Marcus Aurelius/Pexels
  • Practice stress management techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation into your daily routine to help alleviate stress.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity, and prioritize adequate sleep to support overall well-being and resilience against stress.
  • Set boundaries: Learn to say no to excessive commitments and prioritize tasks to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Establish boundaries to protect your time and energy.
  • Learn time management: Organize your tasks and schedule to prevent procrastination and reduce the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed by deadlines or obligations.
  • Seek social support: Build a strong support network of friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional support and encouragement during challenging times.
  • Practice self-care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. It could be reading, listening to music, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies.
  • Limit exposure to stressors: Identify sources of chronic stress in your life, such as toxic relationships or work-related pressures, and take steps to minimize or eliminate them where possible.
  • Develop coping strategies: Learn healthy ways to cope with stress, such as problem-solving, positive reframing, and seeking professional support from therapists or counselors, if needed.
  • Stay mindful: Practice mindfulness and self-awareness to recognize early signs of stress and intervene before it escalates into chronic stress.
  • Seek professional help: If you find it challenging to manage stress alone, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and support tailored to your needs.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily life, you can reduce the likelihood of chronic stress and cultivate greater resilience in coping with life’s challenges.

Featured image: master1305/iStock


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