Too much stress in your life can be deadly. Stress is a normal reaction of the body to help people deal with situations that arise in life. In certain circumstances, stress can be a good thing, but prolonged periods of stress can have negative side effects and become extremely negative and impactful causing physical side effects and mental side effects like depression and anxiety.
In fact, stress is a leading cause of heart attacks in people of all ages. It is important for your health that you know what stress symptoms look like so you can make the necessary adjustments and improve your health.
In this article, we’ll detail how chronic stress levels can lead to serious health problems, starting with the side effects of prolonged stress.
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Side effects of prolonged stress
The body will activate the fight or flight response based on the triggers it faces. The autonomic nervous system has the controls that are used to regulate your heart rate, breathing, changes in vision, and much more. Wear and tear on the body as a whole occurs when a person suffers from chronic stress without relief. Aside from wear and tear, the person can also suffer behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms of stress, such as the following:
- Feeling as if your heart is racing
- Pain in your chest
- Aches and pains throughout the body
- Dizziness, headaches, and shaking
- High blood pressure
- Problems having sex
- Trouble sleeping, exhaustion
- A weak immune system
- Digestive issues
- Clenching of the jaw
- Tension in your muscles
- Panic attacks
It is very common for people to deal with chronic stress by taking part in other bad and unhealthy habits, including the following:
- Using drugs
- Heavy drinking
- Developing an eating disorder or overeating
- Compulsive shopping, sexual habits, or use of the internet
Stress can have an impact on your overall behavior and not just your health. For example, people who have high levels of stress might react with any of the following:
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Eating too little or too much
- Neglecting your responsibilities
- Withdrawing from others
- Developing nervous habits
Causes of Stress
The most common causes of stress from external sources include:
- Financial issues
- Major changes in your life
- Problems in your relationship
- School or work
- Family, including children
- Having too much on your calendar
The most common causes of stress from internal sources include:
- Not being able to accept uncertainty
- Being pessimistic
- Continually talking negatively about yourself
- Having an attitude that it is all or nothing
- Lack of flexibility
- Unrealistic expectations
Stressful Life Events
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale provides the following 10 life events as the leading causes of stress:
- Death of a spouse
- Marriage separation
- Death of a close member of the family
- Illness or injury
- Loss of employment
- Reconciling a marriage
Can Stress be Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, there are no tests to diagnose stress since it is subjective. This means that the person dealing with stress must be able to acknowledge that they are dealing with stress and what the possible triggers are in their life. Some medical providers use questionnaires with their patients to determine the level of stress in their lives and identify possible triggers. If chronic stress is causing high blood pressure, the high blood pressure can be discovered using medical tests and then treated appropriately before it is too late.
Best Ways to Relieve Stress
It is impossible to avoid stress no matter your age, work situation, family life, or social situation. However, there are methods you can use to relieve your stress. Try the following methods to prevent stress from taking over your life:
- Take a quick walk or perform another type of exercise to reduce the stress or trigger when it activates your fight or flight response.
- Review what you were able to get done at the end of each day and not what you failed to get done.
- Set attainable goals for each day, week, and month. Doing so will help you feel in control of your life.
- Talk to a therapist, your family members, or anyone else you trust when stress invades your life.
- Take care of yourself: eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, go to the doctor when you don’t feel well, and drink plenty of water.
- Use relaxation techniques: Practice yoga, meditation, muscle relaxation, tai chi, and breathing exercises.
- Acknowledge the good parts of your day and be grateful for all you have in your life.
- Keep in close contact with people who are positive influences, make you happy, keep you calm, and help with your emotional support.
- Learn how to say no to additional responsibilities or tasks when you already have a lot on your plate.
- Come to the understanding that there are going to be situations beyond your control in life. Let go of the worry associated with these situations.
What Happens If I Ignore Stress?
You should never ignore stress. Doing so will only cause your overall health to decline and exacerbate any underlying health conditions you have. Ignoring stress leads to chronic stress, which can cause you to suffer any of the following:
- High blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, abnormal heartbeat, and cardiovascular disease
- Personality disorders, anxiety, and depression
- Problems with your menstrual cycle
- Obesity and other disorders related to eating
- Eczema, psoriasis, acne, and permanent hair loss
- Ulcerative colitis, GERD, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome
- Premature ejaculation, impotence, loss of sexual desire
Your health conditions can deteriorate quickly if you do not relieve stress. Medical professionals do not recommend ignoring stress. Many people believe that ignoring stress will make it go away completely. This will only lead to those people experiencing chronic stress and a worsened medical condition, including heart disease and digestive problems.
Seek Therapy for Your Stress at BasePoint Today
Have you struggled with stress from your job, your family life, or any other trigger? If so, it’s important that you exercise, get plenty of sleep, and eat healthy meals. If you are unable to relieve stress by practicing these methods, it might be time to speak with a professional. BasePoint Psychiatry and Wellness is here to help.