Stress is a state of the body in which all its reserves are involved. Stress can be caused by both negative factors and positive ones, for example, a creative upsurge. Therefore, active people who tend to perceive a change of occupation as a rest, in fact, constantly keep themselves in a stressful state.
Short and chronic stress
Short-term and chronic stress are distinguished depending on the duration of exposure. These two conditions have different effects on human health, so you should understand their essence in more detail.
A person is exposed to short-term (acute) stress for a limited period of time. His reason may be criticism from the boss at the meeting, a sudden conflict on the street, a sports competition. With such stress, the amount of energy temporarily increases, physical strength and concentration increase, a person becomes passionate and active. Such mobilization allows you to better cope with an extreme situation.
The effects of prolonged stress for a person are much worse. So, when working in a complex team with a “toxic” boss, living in a dysfunctional area with a high crime rate or a constant threat of conflict with a loved one, stress becomes chronic – the body is in constant tension. Prolonged uncontrolled stress does not allow the body to return to normal. In such case consequences of prolonged stress can be as impaired sleep and hormonal functions, self-regulation mechanisms of individual vital systems.
Effects of prolonged stress on the body
The human body in a state of stress produces a sharp release of hormones, which is why it experiences not only psychological but also a constant physiological load. The negative side effects of prolonged stress affect all aspects of human life: emotions, behavior, mental abilities, and physical health. Because people deal with stress differently, its symptoms and severity may vary.
However, the physiological effects of chronic stress in different people have much in common, these are:
- Frequent headache, sweating for no reason, fatigue;
- tachycardia and chest pain;
- eating disorders leading to weight gain or loss;
- frequent colds and infectious diseases that occur due to a decrease in immunity;
- emotional problems – feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, inability to relax, pessimism, decreased libido;
- cognitive impairment – forgetfulness, low concentration of attention; trouble sleeping.
You can understand that you are starting to have chronic stress if you notice the following symptoms:
- sleep and appetite disturbances;
- physical weakness, headaches;
- constant fatigue, apathy;
- problems with concentration, memory, speed of thought process;
- nervousness, fussiness, irritability, desire to control everything, inability to relax;
- decreased immunity, exacerbation of diseases of internal organs.
If you have chronic stress fatigue, you can be interested in alcohol, which helps relax a bit, junk food. Against this background, overeating, obesity can develop.
Stages of dealing with the consequences of chronic stress
Step one: learn to manage emotions
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As soon as you feel that emotions are about to break, you need to calm and distract, that is, switch to something else or not react at all.
You can use: meditation-focusing on any subject (you look, for example, at a mug, and gently drive away all extraneous thoughts), switching attention to something pleasant. As a short-term help, it’s enough just to distract from the situation, for example, playing games on the phone, reading an article or viewing positive memes
Step Two: Stress and Hormone Control
When a person is faced with psychosocial stress, the brain begins to reproduce all kinds of hormones, one of which is cortisol. The body continues to produce it, even when a person just thinks about it. If you continue to do this indefinitely, then depression will eventually begin. After experiencing stress, you need not rest, but occupy yourself with something, so as not to think about what happened.
For example, start solving arithmetic problems in your mind. Also, light physical activity in the form of walking, running or aerobics is very effective in this fight (no strength training, they only exacerbate stress), slowed down deep breathing, contemplation of nature, music for meditation helps.
Step Three: Set Up Your Biological Clock
Sleep is an important part of our life. During sleep, the brain revises the events of the day, the memories, analyzing them. People who sleep enough, more easily perceive and endure prolonged stress, for them, it is less traumatic. The longer a person is awake, the longer the brain remains in a state of mental activity and the higher the need for sleep.
Change the factors that affect your biorhythms – light, nutrition, physical activity, and temperature.
For example, you need to play sports in the morning. If this is not possible, then no later than three hours before bedtime. You should not eat before bedtime and it is advisable to eat only in the daytime, so dinner is necessary as early as possible.
Step Four: Learn To Have Fun Again
Chronic stress reduces motivation and leads to apathy. In this condition, you lose the ability to enjoy what you liked before. A healthy brain usually functions in three modes: basic, positive (joy) and negative (sadness). A person cannot constantly feel completely happy; he experiences joy periodically. The same goes for sadness.
One option for overcoming constant sadness is planning an event that will bring pleasure. The planning process stimulates the anticipation of something pleasant. Next, you need to learn how to look for and value moments of pleasure in everyday situations.