Chronic Stress – Am I At Risk?

Natural Treatments for stress

If you suffer from chronic stress and looking for safe and effective ways to relieve stress and prevent conditions associated with it. Give our office a call today at (425) 686-4498 to set-up your initial consultation.

Chronic Stress – Am I At Risk?

Many people experience stress in some form or another. Often people get used to being in that tightly wound-up, “go-go-go” mode and dont realize they are experiencing chronic stress.

Chronic stress can cause a range of concerning symptoms, and not just the psychological ones we often associate it with. It can also contribute to the development of a multitude of physical and mental disorders — it truly is a full-body response!

In fact, chronic stress has become so stealthy at infiltrating every part of our lives that health professionals have dubbed a new illness for a new era.

What Does Chronic Stress Feel Like?

The stress response is a normal reaction to stimuli. It is what helps us quickly escape danger and pushes us to get up and go if we perceive threats.

When we perceive a threat our hypothalamus kicks into gear and sets off the alarm system in our body. This prompts our adrenal glands to release stress hormones including Adrenaline and Cortisol. Adrenaline increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure and pumps up energy reserves while cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases glucose in the bloodstream, enhances the brain’s use of glucose and bolsters tissue repair function. Ideally, when this treat is gone, the hormone levels should return to normal. For example, as stress hormone levels drop, heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other body systems resume their regular activities too.

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But, what happens when the normal stress response goes into overdrive?

Even though a lion isn’t chasing you across the grassy plains anymore, you probably have a seemingly continuous accumulation of different types of stress – from your private life, professional life and everywhere in between.

This includes overeating, toxic relationships, and information + digital overload!

Long-term activation of your stress-response system (as if your natural fight or flight reaction switch stays in the ‘on’ position), coupled with the overexposure to stress hormones like Cortisol can disrupt nearly all your body’s complex systems and processes.

What are common health problems associated with chronic stress?

  • Anxiety, depression
  • Mood changes and easy to anger
  • Digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation
  • Appetite changes – increased or decreased
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Headaches and chronic body pain
  • Rapid heartbeat and palpitations
  • Increased risk for hypertension, heart attack, heart disease & stroke
  • Lower immunity and frequent sickness
  • Contributes to premature aging
  • Lowered libido, increased sexual dysfunction
  • Hormone imbalances (closely associated with Adrenal Dysfunction) and fertility issues
  • Sleep problems and insomnia
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Memory impairment and difficulty concentrating
  • Skin issues like acne, eczema, hives and psoriasis
  • Excessive sweating

And so many, many more possible symptoms – and why it is now being referred to as the “health epidemic of the 21st century”.

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How to prevent chronic stress?

Chronic stress can become very overwhelming, especially due to that feeling of being constantly under a full-body & mind attack! However, there are a number of ways you can reduce stress levels and improve the uncomfortable symptoms you might be experiencing.

Here are 10 ways to manage stress and prevent Chronic Stress

  1. Learn to recognize the signs & symptoms. Obviously, they can vary from person to person, but if one can recognize their own signs of too much stress, they’ll be better equipped to manage them.
  2. Identify and then avoid your personal stress triggers, when possible. Taking note of your own specific triggers can help you to develop personalized coping and management strategies. Reducing exposure to them is going to be key in prevention though.
  3. Improve your sleep. Easier said than done, but getting too little sleep or poor quality sleep can significantly contribute to stress load. Generally, avoiding caffeine, eating too much, intense exercise and devices (!!) before bed is sound advice.
  4. Eat a healthy diet, including limiting caffeine, alcohol and excessive sugar intake which can all stress the nervous system.
  5. Exercise regularly to increase the body’s production of endorphins – chemicals that boost mood and reduce stress. You could try walking, cycling, running, circuit training, a HIIT workout, or playing sports. You just need to move your body, work up a sweat and do something that you actually enjoy.
  6. Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, alternate nostril breathing, massage therapy or other type of hands-on “touch therapy”.
  7. Mindfulness has been shown to have a positive impact on reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
  8. Take time for hobbies, such as reading, listening to music or volunteering in your community.
  9. Fostering positive relationships (and ditching the toxic ones) and try to have a good belly laugh more often!
  10. Get acupuncture! (we obviously write frequently on this topic, check out previous posts here on how acupuncture can help.)

 

With the very real risk of being affected by chronic stress, it’s increasingly more important to pay close attention to how you deal with both minor and major stress events, and be able to tune into and recognize the signs & symptoms of chronic stress — so that you know how and when to seek help.

If you suffer from chronic stress and looking for safe and effective ways to relieve stress and prevent conditions associated with it. Give our office a call today at (425) 686-4498 to set-up your initial consultation.


Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7347532/

National Institute of Mental Health/National Institute of Health (NIMH/NIH) – 5 things you should know about stress

Study: Future Science Open Access (November 2015) – The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain–body communication

Study: Chronic Stress (Thousand Oaks, Calif., August 2017) – Chronic Pain and chronic stress – two sides of the same coin?

Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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