Short-lived feelings of stress are a regular part of daily life. Chronic stress is a prolonged and constant feeling of stress that can negatively affect your health if it goes untreated. It can be caused by the everyday pressures of balancing family and work or by traumatic situations. This means that the body remains in a constant state of physiological arousal. It affects virtually every system in the body, either directly or indirectly. We were built to handle acute stress, which is short-lived, but not chronic stress, which is steady over a long period of time. Chronic stress can occur at any age, although they are especially prevalent in children and adolescents, and it affects women and men indifferently.
When you face stressors often and find that you have little control in these situations, you are at risk of experiencing chronic stress which can affect your health in many negative ways. Studies on health and stress have shown that stress can be a causal or contributing factor to virtually all major illnesses because chronic stress can lower immunity.
- Acne is one of the most visible ways that stress often manifests itself. When some people are feeling stressed out, they tend to touch their faces more often. This can spread bacteria and contribute to the development of acne. Several studies have also confirmed that acne may be associated with higher levels of stress.
- If you feel like you’re constantly battling a case of the sniffles, stress may be to blame. Stress may take a toll on your immune system and can cause increased susceptibility to infections.
- Chronic fatigue and decreased energy levels can also be caused by prolonged stress. Stress may also disrupt sleep and cause insomnia, which can lead to low energy. Other factors that may play a role in decreased energy levels include dehydration, low blood sugar, a poor diet or an underactive thyroid.
- Changes in appetite are common during times of stress. When you feel stressed out, you may find yourself either with no appetite at all or ravenously raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night.
- Some studies have found that stress may be associated with digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea, especially in those with digestive disorders.
Stress is a normal part of living. It affects people of all ages, genders and circumstances and can lead, when it becomes chronic, to physical and psychological health issues. Many of the stressors that we deal with today turn into chronic stressors. They are issues that are not easily resolved. Things build up. One thing leads to another. We feel overwhelmed.
- The social environment is very important as both a risk factor and protector, as it can be an additional tool to cope with stress, but it can also lead to the appearance of certain stressors (divorce, mistreatment, bullying, ??)
- The family can be a strong protective barrier against stress, if there is a good family relationship, but it can also be stressful if it is a family with no structure or with particularly authoritarian educational styles. Keep in mind that it is not convenient to share all the stress with the family as this can disrupt the family nucleus.
- The peer group. Friends (or partners) in adolescence and the couple in adulthood are very influential factors during our life. As with the family, they can be both risk and protective factors.
- Genetic determinants. Certain genotypes may cause the individual to have a greater predisposition or vulnerability to stressful situations.
- Understanding the signs and symptoms. These indications can vary, but if a person can recognize their own signals of stress, they will be better able to manage them.
- Identifying triggers. It is not always possible to avoid triggers of stress. However, taking note of specific triggers can help a person to develop coping and management strategies, which may involve reducing exposure.
- Exercising regularly. Physical activity increases the body’s production of endorphins, which are chemicals that boost the mood and reduce stress. Exercise can involve walking, cycling, running, working out, or playing sports.
- Improving sleep quality. Getting too little sleep or sleep of poor quality can contribute to stress. Try to get at least 7 hours every night, and set regular times for going to sleep and waking up. Avoid caffeine, eating, and intense physical activity in the hours before bed.
- If strategies such as those listed above are not helping, it is important to see a healthcare professional for advice and support. A doctor may recommend psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Word from CBT Kenya
Do not try to deal with chronic stress alone. If self-help strategies are not working, a doctor can provide support and advice about treatment options. They can also refer a person to a more specialized healthcare provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
At CBT Kenya, we have friendly yet professional psychologists who are ready to have a talk with you. We encourage you to find out more about our services. We welcome any questions. Any questions related to psychotherapy, counselling, and psychology services are welcomed. Our purpose is to help you to achieve your therapeutic and life goals, to improve the quality of your life and to help you to build strong relationships in your life. Get in touch or book an appointment on +254 739 935 333, +254 756 454 585 or email@example.com.