How to recognise and manage chronic stress

WE ALL EXPERIENCE STRESS AND PERIODS WHEN WE ARE IRRITABLE AND OVERWHELMED. STRESS IS NOT IN PRINCIPLE NEGATIVE. BUT YOU PROBABLY ALSO KNOW THAT CHRONIC STRESS CAN MAKE YOU SICK.

So how do we recognise that we are chronically stressed and this situation has simply become unhealthy? We recognise it by spotting and knowing how to interpret the warning signs. It is also important to understand where the stress comes from.

What is stress

Stress is a perceived burden and an internal physical and mental reaction to environmental stimuli. Stress helps us to successfully adapt to changing situations and environmental conditions, summon energy and enhance our awareness. This means that stress, in principle, has a positive function.

However, stress often has negative consequences in modern society. At what point does stress become unhealthy? It becomes unhealthy when there is a sustained imbalance between the demands placed on us and the means or resources available to us. In the long term, stress reduces our ability to perform and can even make us sick. In the worst cases, stress ends in burnout or depression and a weakening of the immune system. The latter can subsequently lead to many other illnesses.

signs of stress

Signs of stress

Stress is subjective and starts feeling negative if we can no longer manage something in a positive manner and or solve problems. The line between healthy stress and long-lasting, illness-inducing stress is sometimes thin. We do not always immediately recognise that we are suffering from chronic negative stress.

Stress becomes chronic if the body does not experience any sort of relaxation over a longer period of time. Your body enters a state of permanent alarm. Physical and mental reactions to stress can include the following:

Signs of stress
● Physical symptoms of stress:

Loss of energy, headaches, stomach aches, circulation issues, sexual disorders, increased perspiration, psychosomatic disorders

● Mental symptoms of stress:

Tension, hypersensitivity, feeling overwhelmed, helplessness, sleep disorders, anxiety, dissatisfaction

● Patterns of behaviour:

Irritability, aggressiveness, unhealthy nutrition and lack of exercise, increased addictive behaviour, workaholism, social isolation

Various causes of stress

Stress can be caused or triggered by a variety of factors. To help you manage the stress, it is important to identify the situation that is causing it. Chronic stress can emerge in the following contexts: 

  • Work: Stress at work can emerge, for example, through an excessive workload or through simply not liking what you do. Work takes up a very large part of our lives, which means it can also be a cause of chronic stress.
  • Relationships: Ongoing problems or dissatisfaction in relationships can also be a cause of stress and can become a heavy burden if not dealt with.
  • Money: Money problems are a notorious cause of stress. Ongoing financial difficulties can certainly lead to stress.
  • Health: Health is an important issue for most of us, particularly when there is a lot at stake. Having to deal with concerns about your health over a long period can really take it out of you and is definitely one of the causes of chronic stress.
  • Familial obligations: Looking after relatives in need of care or dealing with other familial obligations can take up a lot of time and energy and can be difficult to cope with.
  • Studying: Many students know that studying can be very demanding. Test pressure and pressure to perform are not to be underestimated as causes of stress, and some people struggle with them.
  • Holiday: An impending holiday can also cause stress. This situation might sound familiar: you are about to go on holiday, you should have already packed your bags and sorted out your family, but something at work absolutely has to be dealt with and resolved first.

 

Have you identified that you are suffering from chronic stress? Then think about your triggers. What makes you feel overwhelmed or what are you constantly turning over in your mind? Once you have identified the trigger, you can start to manage the stress.

Various causes of stress
Tips for stress management

There are various methods and options when it comes to reducing stress. Which of these suits you best depends on your situation and the trigger of the chronic stress. Examples of stress-relieving measures include changing your attitude and perspective, resolving conflicts and problems, specific relaxation techniques, exercise and changing your environmental conditions.

If you need help with this, do get in touch. A personal coach from mynd can help you make positive changes in your life and manage chronic stress.

written by Daniel Sigrist

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