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Chronic Stress and Mental Health

Chronic Stress and Mental Health

Stress comes from humans’ survival instincts and is a normal part of life. On the one hand, everyone needs to learn how to live with stress. On the other hand, it is important to learn relaxation techniques so that you do not develop chronic stress. The latter can lead to lasting harm to both the body and mind.

Understanding Normal Stress

When you perceive something threatening or dangerous, your body sends out stress hormones that come from an evolutionary build-in alarm system. These hormones might cause you to tense your muscles, quicken your breath, and make you sweat. This is sometimes called the “fight or flight” response. Stress hormones make you alert and prepared to take action.

To modern human beings, though the danger of predators is infrequent, there are plenty of situations that might trigger this physical response. Some examples of stressful situations are exams, being late for an important appointment, and missing a deadline. You experience small doses of stress on a daily basis. When the emergency passes, the nervousness often passes as well. However, if you continue to be placed in stress-inducing situations, such as overwork or violence, you may develop long-term stress.

Signs and Symptoms of Long-Term Stress

Chronic stress is harmful to both the body and the mind. It often leads to pain, sleep problems, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Chronic stress has a wide range of symptoms that can make it hard to diagnose. These include cognitive difficulties, such as lack of concertation and memory problems. People with chronic stress may also experience poor emotional health including moodiness, anxiousness, and low morale.

Because stress hormones directly impact your body through things like muscle tension and faster heartbeat, long-term stress can harm the body in these areas. Physical symptoms of chronic stress include fatigue, headaches, body pains, rapid heart rate, and hypertension. Your eating and sleeping patterns might also be affected. Work productivity tends to decline and you might find yourself neglecting personal and familial responsibilities.

Common Causes of Chronic Stress in Modern Life

In today’s fast-paced modern life, there are many common sources of chronic stress, including competition in the job market, overwork, the death of a loved one, financial hardship, and relationship conflict. Even positive changes, such as buying a house, family reunions, and getting a work promotion can trigger stress.

Research has shown that chronic stress may cause macroscopic changes in certain brain areas. Stress-stimulated immune cells may cause immune imbalances that cause low-grade inflammation, which can lead to various illnesses.

It is important to evaluate the frequency and duration of stressful situations. Some people can be exposed to high-stress in traumatizing relationships for a long time without realizing how much chronic stress the situation causes them. For others, a lack of social support or self-care may negatively impact their resiliency to certain stressors. It is important to understand chronic stress as determined by multiple factors so you can better practice self-care.

Practicing All-Around Self-Care to Reduce Stress 

The first and best way to reduce stress is to notice its signs and practice self-care to destress. There are many ways one should actively watch out for to avoid a build-up of long-term stress. In the workplace, for example, establish boundaries and try to maintain a good work-life balance. Do not skip or work through lunch breaks, but use them to de-stress. Good time management and delegation of tasks can help you achieve more efficiency and still have time for breaks. Exercise can both relieve stress and help prevent its harmful effects when it comes.

In family and social life, you should learn how to reduce stress in relationships. Be proactive in repairing relationships before they become a source of chronic stress. If you can, stay away from family or people in your social circles who cause you undue stress. Try to do relaxing activities with family and friends. Expose children to relaxation techniques early so they know how to deal with stress.

Seeking Professional Help to Recover from Chronic Stress

When chronic stress causes other health problems, it is always a good idea to seek help from health professionals. Counseling or cognitive-behavioral therapy may help you identify and develop specific coping strategies to manage stress. Avoid self-medicating with alcohol or other mind-and-mood-altering substances, as this can develop into dependence and addiction which can cause a host of other issues.

Professional therapists can help you manage stress. They might coach you with relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing techniques, and mindfulness. These are proven methods for reducing chronic stress. They can also increase your cognitive abilities and help you stay calm in future emergencies.

Do you how to cope with stress so that it does not build up and negatively impact your health? Counseling or therapy may help you identify and develop specific coping strategies to manage stress. If you suffer from chronic stress, seek help from health professionals who can help you manage stress. Therapists can teach relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing techniques, and mindfulness to deal with an unhealthy build-up of stress. For some people, chronic stress can lead to substance use disorder as they seek out drugs or alcohol to numb out the symptoms and causes of chronic stress. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have experienced mental health professionals who can coach you through recovering from addiction and managing stress. Schedule an appointment with us today to discover how we can help you. Call us at (866) 229-9923, and we will be happy to talk with you about short-term and long-term recovery plans.