Chronic Stress

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Chronic Stress

Chronic stress occurs when the body experiences so many stressors that the autonomic nervous system rarely has a chance to activate the relaxation response. (We were built to handle acute stress, not chronic stress.) This type of chronic stress response occurs all too frequently from our modern lifestyle, when you stress over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. State of perceived threat and chronic stress can wear down our bodies and cause us to become ill. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 90% of doctor’s visits are for conditions in which stress at least plays a role!

The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the easier it is to trip and the harder it is to shut off. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. That's why it's so important to learn stress management techniques and make healthy lifestyle changes to safeguard yourself from the negative impact of chronic stress.

Things that influence your stress tolerance level

* Your support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.

* Your sense of control – If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through...
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