Chronic Stress: How It Affects Performance In Everyday Life
- Stress is a human reaction to challenges and unusual circumstances.
- Experiencing stress for more than a month is a sign of chronic stress.
- Your body, mood, and behavior may get affected by stress.
- Stress is a hurdle in our everyday lives, affecting us in various ways.
- Stress management strategies may help to deal with stress.
One day in the office when your senior asks about the submission of a project file, you may feel nervous, demotivated, confused and anxious, because you would not be able to meet the deadline.
This is your body's response to the situation. Yes, this is quite normal, but what if you feel this frequently for some time? Now, that may be a sign of chronic stress.
Let me help you to understand what stress is and how it will affect your daily life.
What is stress?
Stress is a natural human reaction that everyone experiences. The human body is designed to experience and respond to stress. When you face changes or challenges, your body reacts physically and mentally. That's called stress.
Positive stress, assume if you have an exam coming up, a positive stress response might help your mind and body to work harder and stay awake for late-night studies. But this stress becomes a problem when you start stressing about every situation in a negative way.
What is chronic stress?
The physical effects of stress usually do not last for long periods. However, some people may experience stress for weeks or more. This is chronic stress.
Suppose a person loses his job for some reason, and then after, he starts stressing about his finance, his family, and all aspects of life where money matters. This constant thinking about what will now happen with me can make him extremely stressed about the condition.
Instead of finding a new job or applying for a new job profile, he overthinks the situation and gets overstressed. This will affect his mood and overall physical condition and mental health. It may also affect the environment of his house, because he may stay sad at home and not talk with family members.
What happens to your body while you are stressed out?
Your body has an autonomic nervous system (ANS), a system that controls your brain neurons, heart rate, breathing, and more. It is a built-in stress response system of the body. "The fight or flight" response helps your body face stressful conditions.
Our minds smartly react to stressful situations. You need to train them that way.
Common signs of stress
Stress affects your body and daily life in many different ways. Your thoughts, behavior, and feelings will be disturbed because of stress.
Undiagnosed stress may indirectly cause disease conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Stress may affect three things, mentioned below:
1. Your body
Headaches, chest pain, fatigue, stomach upset, panic attacks, indigestion, nausea, muscle tension, pain in the shoulders, change in sex drive, shaking and shivering, and sleep problems are common effects of stress on the body.
2. Your mood
Anxiety, restlessness, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, extreme sadness or depression, lack of motivation for work, restlessness, constant fear of losing a loved one, or sometimes suicidal thoughts are the effects of stress on your mood.
3. Your behavior
People with chronic stress make some mistakes while managing their stress. They try to manage it with unhealthy behaviors like overeating or undereating, loss of interest in activities, constant being on social media and shopping, anger outbursts, gambling, drug or alcohol misuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal, and lack of motivation for exercise.
How to diagnose stress
Stress is subjective. You cannot measure it or test it with a medical kit. Only the person who is experiencing stress can determine the presence and severity of sadness and stress.
A doctor or therapist may use a questionnaire to understand the condition of the patient and how it affects his or her life.
Understanding the stress response
Understand what happens in the body when it experiences stressful conditions. Assume you have seen a black mamba (a dangerous snake commonly found in Nigeria) in your house surrounding in the evening.
Your hypothalamus sets the alarm in your body. This may prompt the adrenal gland at the top of your kidney to release cortisol and adrenaline hormones.
Adrenaline instantly increases your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, that increases glucose in the blood, enhances your brain's ability to utilize this glucose, and works accordingly. Cortisol is not essential for fight-or-flight situations. It alters immune system responses and makes them suppressed and communicates with the brain to control mood, motivation, and fear.
When the natural stress control system goes wild you may get at risk of many health problems, like:
- Weight gain
- Heart attack, stroke
- Digestive problems
- Anxiety attacks
So, it's important to learn healthy ways to cope with your life stress.
How does stress affect your performance in daily life
Effect of stress on daily routine
If you are stressed out for any reason and you started overthinking, that can lead to a lack of sleep, resulting in you not getting enough sleep leading to a fussy morning.
You cannot pay attention to your family members and you might feel lost. Sometimes people forget that they put something on the stove, or some important task to do. Stress may affect your cognition and memory.
Effect of stress on physical health
While under stress, some people have a habit of overeating, and some do not eat at all. Both these conditions can affect your physical health.
By overeating, you may gain lots of unwanted weight and that may cause obesity. By undereating, people may go underweight and that causes many health issues. Stress is one of the major causes of obesity.
Effect of stress on work-life
Stress may affect your working ability. You might feel lost while working, or in meetings. You may not feel motivated while working, you cannot meet your deadlines; that in turn can disappoint your boss.
All of these might happen with people suffering from stress or chronic stress.
Effect of stress on personal life
People with stress may feel so lost in their thoughts that they may feel isolated. Constant thinking may cause a loss in any activity, and prevent any new thoughts or ideas.
They feel negative and drowning in sadness. This may obstruct your personal growth and disturb your personality.
Effect of stress on relations with family and friends
If you feel sadness and stress and you do not talk with your family and friends, this can cause many problems; you may get irritated and angry with your loved ones.
In turn, your family members may stress about you.
Learn to react to stressful conditions
Stressful events are facts of life. You cannot change the occurrence of situations. But you can take a good step to manage your mental health during these events.
You need to identify stress-causing events and make a strategy for how to react to that situation by maintaining good physical and emotional health.
Stress management strategies
- Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly like dancing, Zumba and getting enough sleep
- Yoga, deep breathing, massage, or meditation are all examples of relaxation techniques
- Keeping a journal and writing down your thoughts or things you're thankful for in your life
- Hobbies such as reading, listening to music, or watching your favorite show or movie should be prioritized
- Developing healthy friendships and communicating with friends and family
- Having a sense of humor and looking for ways to incorporate humor and laughter into your life, such as watching funny movies or visiting joke websites
- Participating in community service
- Organizing and prioritizing what you need to do at home and work, as well as eliminating unnecessary tasks
- Seeking professional counseling can assist you in developing specific coping strategies
Stress is a response mechanism of your body, but prolonged stress is a disease condition which affects your body, mood, and behavior.
Your doctor may ask you some relevant questions to diagnose your condition. Stress may affect your daily routine, work performance, physical health, personal life, and family.
Practice yoga, meditation, and breathing exercise regularly to counter effects of stress relief. So, now whenever you feel something along the same lines, do not hesitate to talk, or go to your doctor.
Did you like our Article?
- Apooyin A, et al. Stress control and management among Nigerian journalists. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Studies. 2014 Feb 15;2(1).
- Yaribeygi H, et al. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI journal. 2017;16:1057.
- Stress, available at Cleveland Clinic
- Stress management, available at Mayo Clinic