We have all felt the impacts of stress at some point in our lives, whether it be our own or those around us. From work deadlines to school assignments or even paying off the bills, stress appears in many different aspects of our lives.
Short-term stress can make us feel anxious, exhausted, and irritable but is sometimes necessary for productivity and accomplishing our goals. However, chronic stress can have serious impacts on our health and well-being, which ultimately can lead to a shorter life span.
Long-term stress has proven to have negative effects on our health and is much more common than one would imagine. According to WebMD, around 33 percent of people report feeling repeated and extreme stress throughout their daily lives.
The causes of chronic stress can be anything from financial problems to a high-pressure job, to issues with family or our relationships. There are various ways that stress directly impacts our health, especially over the long term.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress
There are many indicators that a person may be experiencing chronic stress. If they are overwhelmed and constantly busy, it may not be that easy to identify the symptoms and admit that they are stress related.
One of the most common symptoms of chronic stress is frequent tension headaches. This can occur due to the fact that when under stress, you are likely not giving your mind as much oxygen as it needs. The built-up emotions that stress brings to the mind increases muscle tension and can impact our sleep.
Stress can also increase our general anxiety levels, leaving us on edge and irritable throughout the day. Stress-related anxiety causes rapid breathing, high blood pressure, frequent stomachaches, and a weakened immune system. These impacts on the body leave you at risk for heart attacks and potentially very serious diseases.
According to the American Institute of Stress, it is not the stressful situations that can kill you, but how you deal with the stress that affects your health. When your stress is excessive over long periods of time, you will begin to experience these symptoms and have a high risk for anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
A study done by the Mental Health Foundation discovered that 32 percent of respondents who were experiencing chronic stress admitted to having some form of suicidal thoughts at one point in their lives.
Heart disease is another common way that stress impacts the body. People often turn to excessive eating, drugs, or alcohol to manage chronic stress, but in reality, this worsens their symptoms and long-term health.
The high blood pressure and cholesterol that results from these decisions can damage the artery walls and eventually lead to life threatening heart problems.
Preventing the Effects of Chronic Stress
Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome chronic stress and prevent it from having lasting impacts on your health. One of the best ways to manage stress is to stay away from alcohol, drugs, and caffeine.
Having a set daily routine allows the body to not feel as stressed and overwhelmed with responsibilities. This can also allow you to maintain a healthy lifestyle and make time for exercise each day, even if it means waking up an hour earlier.
Routines also help with maintaining a good sleep pattern and getting the proper amounts of sleep each night. You will not experience problems falling asleep if you go to bed at the same time each night and your body will get adjusted to waking up early in the morning.
There are many ways to manage stress and overcome it in order to prevent the life-threatening impacts that stress can have on the body and your overall health. It is important to take the necessary steps to avoid these problems and stay mentally and physically healthy for the long-term.