For a long time I’ve lived with chronic stress. I won’t go into the details, but there are some people in my life that cause a great deal of stress; and as they are family, I can’t just run away (although I will admit I’d like to). I’ve got to just deal with it. Sometimes this is more of an issue than other times, but lately just hiding from them isn’t cutting it anymore. I’ve got to find a better way of dealing, and so I decided to do some research that I thought I’d share with you. Everyone has stress in their lives, but I’m talking about stress that just never seems to let up. This is the chronic, long-term stress. Knowing the damage it can cause, and how I could mitigate that damage would be beneficial to both my life and yours, if you suffer chronic stress.
When a person suffers from chronic stress, the body’s response to stress doesn’t work correctly anymore. It short-circuits, leaving you with an overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones. This actually leaves you with a flight or fight response to everything that happens. I can actually feel this response to almost everything, whether it is perceived as a problem or not. My initial reaction is hysteria (not outwardly, but inwardly) that I must then hide as best as I can, mentally reduce the hysteria and try to react in a more normal way. Think Road Runner trying to appear as Buddha.
Some of the problems that chronic stress can cause are: anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, infertility, and weakened immune system. People who suffer from chronic stress are at a higher risk from heart disease, depression and obesity. There is also a relationship between chronic stress and substance abuse. But the one problem with chronic stress that really got my attention and made me decide to write this post, was the new evidence that chronic stress early in life can actually affect the how many neurons are produced, affect the memory and can lead to mental illness. Now, that really made me sit up and take notice, since in my childhood you were expected to “be one your toes” mentally. I never knew when a eye roll, comment or at times just a sigh was going to get me, at the very least, sent to bed without my supper. Other disciplines could be much more physical. You just never knew. As an adult, I experience other forms of chronic stress that I feel I must be just as diligent in hiding my flight or fight responses.
So, now that I know what chronic stress can do, is there anything that can be done to mitigate it? Some of the helpful advice I’ve found are: getting enough sleep; exercising, since that can release those all-important endorphins that make us feel better; a healthy diet; learning relaxation techniques; and talking to a professional if needed.
So, I guess I’ll have to make sure I get more sleep and exercise on a regular basis. Also, I think will be trying to meditate (which for me will be a difficult step, I am the Energizer Bunny after all). How do you deal with all the stress in your life, chronic or regular?
Here are the links that I found. I hope they are useful.