Understanding Chronic Stress – And 12 Easy Ways To Beat It!

By January 31, 2018Rita Selle-Grider

Stress is something that everyone experiences from time to time in life. Whoever you are or wherever you go there will always be something that triggers stressors in the body.

Learning to accept this is the first step. Understanding that it is normal (and sometimes in our best interest) to experience stress is the best way to understand how stress works within us.

There are basically three main types of stress.

Good stress, also called eustress, happens when we anticipate and prepare for a positive event. It stimulates the body on all levels to be productive, or to handle a challenge. Eustress motivates and makes us successful and fulfilled, and with that brings us happiness.

Acute stress can be vital to our survival when experiencing a dangerous or challenging situation. The hypothalamus in our brain then activates adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol to provoke us into “fight or flight” mode. The blood flow will be centralized to the muscles and heart. This is a good thing as it can ensure our survival in some cases. Then there is bad stress, called distress. It is the chronic stress that prolongs over an extended time period.

Chronic stress however works very differently. It is usually caused by some kind of ongoing situation, whether it’s physical, emotional, financial or other.

Sometimes the person who is experiencing chronic stress might not even be aware of it. Chronic stress can build up over time and is commonly caused by a series of events.

Stress can develop internally or externally

Both, acute and chronic stress can develop internally and externally. It’s important to be aware of what triggers these and how they come into play. It is the first step of managing stress and finding ways to eliminate it.

Internal stressors can be caused by thoughts and feelings which are linked to our unique mind-sets, characters and circumstances, but also by our nutritional status and over-all health.

Hormonal changes within the body can also play a part in stress. Women are more susceptible to these kinds of hormonal stress triggers as monthly cycles and pregnancy can shift the hormone balance dramatically. Lack of sleep and some medications can also work against us.

External stressors can be linked to things that are going on in our lives concerning money, relationships or work related matters, as well as major life changes and emergency situations.

What chronic stress does to the body

While an adrenalin rush and increased heartbeat can be good for a short time, if experienced over a prolonged time, it can cause great harm to our body.

  1. It can increase our blood pressure and deteriorate our blood vessels and heart.
  2. Higher cortisol levels increase appetite and can bring about obesity and diabetes.
  3. Higher cortisol levels can also kill brain cells, and shrink our pre-frontal brains,
    which is responsible for concentration, learning, decision-making, stress
    control, and social interaction.
  4. It weakens our immune system, makes us more receptive for diseases, and
    causes us to be more often fatigued.

These changes in our body can cause ripple effects in our emotions, thinking capacity, social interaction, and work ability. One thing is certain, chronic stress can’t be taken lightly. Luckily, there are many easy ways to reduce stress.

12 Easy ways to beat stress

  • Start the day with a power hour:
    • Take time for your devotion and prayer
    • start a gratitude journal
    • look over your plan for the day, focus on the most important task/goal
  • Yawn, breathe deeply and stretch often during the day
  • Commit to positive words and self-talk, read or memorize encouragingBible verses
  • Keep your home and office de-cluttered: do it regularly, hire someone
  • Sing, laugh, dance, do something for fun
  • Do Journaling – It’s not only important to keep a diary of what causes stress and list symptoms to help understand ourselves and our bodies better, it is also a great way to relief some stress by writing events and emotions on paper
  • Use coloring books, do puzzles, knit or crochet
  • Enjoy nature, make a brisk walk
  • Learn Time management:
    • Limit goals to two or three per day, plan in a day per week fortasks that got dumped
    • Plan in a time to relax each day
    • Write your plan for the next day in the evening
  • Instill a daily ME time: take a nap, cuddle your pet, pray, read …
  • Eat healthy with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, and drink at least 8 x8 ounce glasses of water
  • 8 hours of sleep, preferably in a dark room

When it comes to stress, we are all different in what triggers it for us and how much we can take. This is somewhat also true for ways to beat stress. While we all need to pay close attention to eating healthy and getting enough sleep, eliminating known stressors and learning time management, there are also ways to beat stress that cater more towards our interests that have to be tested out.

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