What Is Chronic Stress?
Stress is an inevitable aspect of human life, and its effects can range from short to long-term. Chronic stress is constant, an unchecked feeling of stress over an extended period. It is also known as long term stress.
There are two standard classifications of stress, which are Acute stress and Chronic stress – both are distinguished by the frequency of occurrence and its effects in the sense that Chronic stress is referred to as long term stress, while acute stress is referred to as short term stress.
People often associate stress only to people’s response to physical happenings; while it is true, I would disagree entirely with it if that’s all the knowledge you have about it because half-truth is not the truth.
Stress can also be from within, in the sense of what is going on in the head rather than the surrounding; this leads to mental fatigue and is always more challenging to note or even deal with.
In the context of the subject matter, it would be from fear of uncertainty or even our expectations from the status quo. Imagine all the thoughts we battle in our head, such that we may even live together, and yet, you have no clue what is going on with me if I don’t voice what’s in between my ears. Such internal information-struggle going on for a while would eventually lead to chronic stress.
When chronic stress is left unattended for a period of time, it often results in health complications. As humans, we are wired to quickly and conveniently deal and get over acute stress.
Acute stress is merely short-term stress; that is, the kind you experience for a brief period – an argument with a friend, being stuck in traffic on your way from work.
Oftentimes, these aren’t things that happen regularly, but in a situation where it begins to happen frequently, it could gradually turn into chronic stress.
Since the human body can handle this little acute stress, as we call them, the body pretty much returns to the normal state of relaxation after a short period of time.
With chronic stress, this isn’t the case as this compounding stress begins to get too much for the body, and the trigger to relax cannot be initiated as it ought to.
Chronic stress drains physical and psychological energy, which impairs normal day to day activity. It can lead to anxiety, irritability, anger, headaches, mood disorders, sleeping problems, digestive problems, and other health challenges.
Over time, if failed to be recognized, it could be considered normal since the symptoms would seem like what could be seen in anyone. This, therefore, places a need to carefully examine the subject of chronic stress – what it is, what it is not, and how to manage them, especially in this trying period.
Since Chronic stress could go unidentified, here are some pointers for you to figure it out quickly: when you notice you are unable to handle even the smallest inconvenience such that it feels like you’re carrying the burden of the world over your shoulders, or you noticed you get irritated more often than you used to.
Sometimes, you’d observe you are always paranoid or worried about something that’s on your mind all day. More so, you begin to depend on some unhealthy lifestyles to cope with each day’s stress.
However, having just one of these as a challenge isn’t enough to reach a chronic stress conclusion as it could be due to another problem.
Other symptoms attached to chronic stress include insomnia, lack of focus, anxiety, fatigue, and constant loss of interest.
Managing Stress During Covid 19 Pandemic
If anything at all, the covid pandemic has aided many disasters this year. If anyone had predicted how this year would turn out, we all would have doubted. If we would be able to manage the issues that are arising or have risen, no one would have been able to predict the level of intensity involved in managing the issues created by Covid.
There are varying differences in people, from likes and dislikes to strengths and weaknesses. Often, no two persons respond to an issue in the same way or same approach.
Each person’s approach is based on past experiences, background, intellectual levels, and support systems. An illustration would be to consider two men whose company got consumed by a fire outbreak.
It’s just one out of numerous companies he owns for the first man, while for the other man, it is the only company he owns, one he was able to build through his struggles.
While it is true both men would be affected by the incident, you would agree with me that the man whose only company got consumed would have a more challenging time taking in the incident because he has nothing to fall back on.
For the other man, he has other support systems to fall on; however, receiving the news may also end up as bad as the second man for him, considering that the company could be his major institution on which other smaller companies run. Hence, looking at it would be from each individual’s standpoint.
This points us to the fact that in dealing with stress during this pandemic, factors to consider would be how sudden it meets each individual, systems in place to deal with the situation, and even how each person handles stress normally.
In times of distress, we often rely on friends and families to lift us when we are down, but what happens when we all are battling the same issue. The covid pandemic is one that cuts across all, both young and old are affected. This time calls for social support workers and therapists like never before.
How To Relieve Stress?
Having seen that stress is unavoidable, and even in this time of covid where there’s a lot of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical fatigue, we would consider some tips to relieve yourself of this stress.
To tell you the truth, it’s not like I have a one-for-all trick or tips to give you to employ such that the moment you use it, all your worries are gone. Sorry to burst your bubble, there’s no such thing. What we have are several healthy tips that work for each individual.
As I have earlier mentioned, each individual will develop their peculiar strategy, if I may use the word. You might even need to combine two or three tips and make them your stress-relieving strategy.
Below are some ways to deal with stress during this pandemic.
1. Place A Check On Information Consumed On The Media
Consuming false information at these times could be very detrimental to your health as you act based on the information you have at hand.
The media is full of both true and false information. It takes being conscious and discernment to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, there are still reliable information sources out there that you can trust for relevant, true, and timely content.
Such outlets would include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your local or state health organizations, and recognized Health personnel.
Another thing to note about the media is that the platforms thrive on suspense and anxiety. You would agree with me that anxiety is not suitable for you.
Imagine having to stay in a state of anxiety because of what has been portrayed to you in the media, coupled with the day’s stress. I bet having to live like that for just three days isn’t certainly going to end well.
Also, even with reliable news and information platforms, it would do you well to limit how often you check the updates. If at all you need to check often, probably because of the nature of your job or business to stay aware, you could limit this to twice or thrice a day.
Checking for updates at all times sure causes fatigue as you repeatedly put yourself under unnecessary stress that you can avoid.
2. Get Creative
Creating something in your mind, and crafting it with your hands is one way to relieve stress. There are a thousand DIY projects you could check online and practice. The thing about this is that while it takes your mind off negativities and helps you relax, it also allows you to stay productive.
There’s this pride of imagining and achieving something all by yourself, and an even more incredible feeling comes as you use the item you made.
Also, if you’re a person with some free time, learning a skill at this time could be helpful. Instead of spending minutes and hours reading things that could cause mental fatigue, how about spending those times to engage in something productive.
There is a creator in every individual, and now could be one of the best times to bring that creator out.
This activity could be adapted as a routine carried out each morning. This way, you start your day with a positive feeling of accomplishment.
3. Engage Nature
Interacting with nature is another way to relax in these difficult times. Do little things that count – take a walk, pay attention to little creatures, enjoy the cool sea breeze. Times spent engaging nature never goes to waste.
It helps you understand better what life contains and how the little things we ignore daily actually do matter and helps you appreciate nature better. You can take time out to enjoy these moments with your loved ones. Spending time with nature helps to revive the human soul.
Spending some minutes daily to meditate helps restore your inner peace, regain your focus, and keep you relaxed. It is an ancient practice that has been practiced over the years. In recent times, it is now commonly used for relaxation and stress management.
As you practice meditation, your mind is focused, and other unwanted thoughts are eliminated. It is instrumental in managing stress and anxiety and even in managing some health conditions.
Some studies have shown that regular meditation helps to manage the way your body responds to stress and have also shown meditation to be as, if not more effective than most stress management methods employed these days.
You could probably be thinking about how exercising would help relieve you of stress and not rather cause you to be more stressed. Exercise helps to alter chemicals in the brain by secreting and releasing chemicals.
It produces endorphins, which help to reduce tension, how you handle stress, and even self-worth.
Physical exercise or activities go a long way in relieving stress and taking care of your mental health. This wouldn’t necessarily mean you have to go to the gym as that itself might not be so great an idea considering the Covid restrictions.
It could be something as simple as jogging around your home, walking up and down the stairs a couple of times, or playing soccer with your kids or even investing in yoga classes online.
There is a bridge that connects what a person was to how the person feels. For instance, diets rich in oils tend to affect how anxious or depressed you as an individual can be.
Eating a poor diet can cause you to react more when stressed. Also, with food that causes an increase in blood sugar, you are likely to experience more stress
Another common mistake people make when using food to deal with stress is to constantly eat too much above what they would eat normally or eat food high in fat or sugar.
While such feeding could lead to a short sense of relief, it creates more problems to deal with in the longer term and should therefore be avoided.
Taking a healthy and balanced diet is one sure way to de-stress. Consuming eggs, walnuts, etcetera help to regulate mood. Taking antioxidants also helps by fighting off damages that could be caused by chronic stress.
Getting good daily sleep helps to wake up rejuvenated and able to tackle the challenges each new day presents. Quality sleep has an impact on how the day or the activities therein turns out.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you would most likely get agitated after a little stress. Likewise, the more stressed you are, the less decent sleep you would get.
A good sleeping routine also helps regulate mood, refresh, and restore the body. It is said that the absence of sleep when dealing with stress could lead to even more significant health challenges.
Hence, not getting regular average hours of sleep could be costly; therefore, the need to adopt a rigid sleep routine when dealing with chronic stress is absolutely necessary for your total well being.
8. Leisure Activities
Since activities are reduced for most people, engaging in leisure activities can be another way to ease the stress from this whole covid thing. Hanging out with friends to fish, ski, play games, and the likes could help take your mind off all the difficulties the human race is experiencing at this point.
During such activities, you must put your entire being in the activity as it is much more effective that way. It would lower the stress level significantly. Spending such times would help you feel better after the whole thing, but this is to be done in adherence to safety guidelines.
This is another natural approach to chronic stress relief. This approach is built on inhaling the scent of essential oils, which then causes a response in the nervous system when the smell receptors take it up. The response then helps initiate a calming effect on the body, control in emotion, and stress reduction.
Aromatherapy also helps you to sleep better. To use this, all you have to do is place the oils in an infuser and let it fill the room with its scent. It is also more effective when used with yoga, meditation, and other natural methods.
A famous example of these kinds of oil is Lavender oil, which has been proven to calm the nervous system, reduce blood pressure, and keep the body relaxed.
10. Physical Touch
This approach could be helpful when experiencing chronic stress and you’re at the limit. A sudden negative occurrence while one is silently dealing with a lot of issues could be detrimental.
In such moments, a touch, embrace or something as simple as a pat on the back could do wonders. Studies have shown that such simple gestures help surprisingly reduce spiked stress and anxiety. It stimulates pressure receptors and releases oxytocin.
The simple touch sends a kind of signal to the brain that helps us realize we aren’t fighting alone and this, in turn, helps us to feel more secure, and rely on those around us. This eases the pressure we feel as individuals.
11. Health Supplements
Using health supplements and vitamins is another way to relieve stress. These supplements help reduce anxiety levels that may result from stress and also deal with other abnormalities that are caused by it.
Some of these supplements also work by helping to adjust to the stress levels.
These supplements could be in capsule, pill, or powered form depending on the locality. The use of supplements isn’t general for everyone but can be developed based on symptoms being experienced or chronic stress levels.
12. Practicing Deep Breathing At Regular Intervals
This is a simple and free trick to relieving yourself of chronic stress. Practicing deep breathing increases oxygen supply to the brain and brings you into a calm state. It is one of the body’s natural ways to relax.
This can be practiced by taking in enough air through the nose, hold for a while, and then release the same. This method works perfectly well for acute stress but also works effectively with chronic stress.
This breathing exercise will be done regularly at intervals as it then gives the calming effect in the long run.
13. Stick To Health Guidelines
Since the inception of Covid-19, several health guidelines have been rolled out to help curb the spread of the virus. These guidelines include social distancing, frequent hand washing, use of sanitizers and face masks, and cleaning of surfaces amongst others.
Adhering to these guidelines is one way to manage stress.
Constant observation of these guidelines keeps you rest assured and takes out the anxiety that could stem from thinking if you’ve observed all basic hygiene rules before joining a gathering.
This of course puts you on the safer side and keeps you relaxed. You are also able to help your families and community at large live a safer day.
14. Seek Help
The last tip isn’t a tip but just something normal to do which several never pay attention to. There’s a thing about communication, sharing your problems with another.
We aren’t created alone in this world. Burdens and problems are meant to be shared.
The popular saying goes like this, “a problem shared is a problem halved”. This means when you share your burdens, feelings, things you’re going through etcetera, then it’s easier for it to be dealt with.
This obviously wouldn’t mean to share with just anybody you meet or feel like talking to, but rather people you’re sure to help you out, people you are sure to help raise your mood.
They could be family, trusted friends or associates, and therapists. They would provide you with avenues, insights, or solutions to de-stress and live a better life.
Mental Health During Covid-19
According to the World Health Organization, mental health refers to an individual’s state of well-being. The individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and contribute to the community.
Stress affects both our physical and mental health, which in turn takes its effect on our productivity.
While several factors could be responsible for an individual’s mental health, a significant factor is stress. Having a stressful day or probably having to deal with many issues during the day is normal.
As humans, many things demand our attention daily; all these little things or tasks make up each day’s stress. Coupled with the loss of a job or lesser income experienced during this pandemic, some are in a deep financial mess that even months after covid passes away, they still wouldn’t have recovered.
It is easy to compound all these and give room for a more significant problem.
However, when this stress becomes overwhelming, it eventually takes effect on our mental health.
Asides from that, human beings as social creatures, are now limited in interactions; smaller gatherings, physical touch, hugs, and the likes.
Ordinarily, some of these actions are means through which we show and receive love, but now are limited or eliminated in some cases such that some precautionary measures are now our new normal.
While these actions are necessary to halt the spread of Covid-19, it takes a toll on our mental health.
There is also the constant worry about a person’s physical health, even before thinking about a family member and close friends or associates.
This leads to streams of thoughts, both negative and positive, but often pessimistic thoughts, as it’s easier for the human mind to assume or conclude on a negative outcome than to hold on to the hope of a positive future.
The covid was declared a pandemic by the WHO. Since a larger part of the generation has never experienced something of this scale, it is only essential that we all learn and take care of our mental health in these times.
Several approaches have been made; in some instances, we try to result in the use of drugs or illicit substances to get off the feeling without understanding it never really solves the issue, only providing a short-lived solution and creating more problems to deal with in the long run.
Although depression and anxiety seem to be the most common, they aren’t the factors we judge a person’s mental health, but even to something as handling stress and relating with others, which is paramount in these times.
It would be a good idea to review and practice the above healthy tips in dealing with stress, especially for health workers who also act as an anchor to us.
In the end, our only hope seems to be the recently approved vaccine, which had been administered to some health practitioners at the forefront in the United States.
While we await the end of this nightmare, we should keep ourselves fit psychologically, emotionally, physically, spiritually, utilizing every possible means and avenue.
We ensure to live each day paying attention to our feelings and taking swift measures when necessary as we trust this nightmare called Covid will pass and soon we will return to our normal lives.
What is the crux of the matter? In a few words, stress, chronic, or whatnot is a bad idea for your health. You can be an easy victim of the current prevailing circumstance of the world, especially if you don’t pay attention to your mental health.
Conclusively, understanding that stress is a normal part of our lives and that we would have to deal with it at one point in our lives or the other, is paramount in stress management.
However, as we deal with this pandemic – Covid-19, we try to keep this information in mind as needed for ourselves or someone with which we are acquainted.
With that in mind, let’s strive to live each day one at a time because the truth of the matter is…we are all in this together!