Stress is an inevitable part of the human experience. All of us, at one point or another, will experience stress related to our careers or personal life.
When the stress we face outstrips our ability to cope, however, is when stress begins to take its toll on our health and well-being.
Chronic exposure to unmanageable levels of stress, ultimately, can lead to illness and burnout, and ruin the quality of our lives.
Stress, simply put, are the physical and psychological reactions we face in response to negative or worrying events, also known as stressors. These stressors can come in countless forms, such as looming deadlines at work, relationship issues or illness.
Even smaller, daily annoyances, such as the traffic we endure on our daily commute, can build up over time and overtax our mind's ability to cope.
While small amounts of stress are normal and nothing to worry about, chronic exposure to stress interferes with our ability to cope. Often, those who experience excessive amounts of stress turn to poor coping skills, such as binge eating, smoking, and substance abuse, as a way to relieve their stress in the short-term.
These habits, however, often serve to contribute to stress over time, as they come with considerable health consequences. As stress is an unavoidable part of life, it is necessary to develop healthy coping strategies to deal with stress, and to recognize the signs of excessive stress.
Signs of Excessive Stress
Stress isn't just something it your head-- it's a real physiological phenomenon involving hormones such as cortisol that has significant impacts on your body.
People suffering from too much stress and not enough relaxation report physical symptoms, such as headaches and upset stomachs, that get better when the stress abates. Likewise, stress can take significant psychological tolls, leading to a dreaded condition known as "burnout".
Some signs that you are experiencing excessive amounts of stress and are potentially headed towards burnout include:
On top of these symptoms, chronic exposure to excessive amounts of stress puts your body at higher risk for illnesses.
Chronic stress may be a precursor to other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders, and may make you more susceptible to diseases such as shingles and irritable bowel syndrome.
Coping with Stress
Stress is often seen as an inevitable consequence of our fast-paced, modern culture. Many people may feel they don't have the time to dedicate to activities designed to decrease stress, such as spending time with loved ones.
Some may even wear their stress as a badge of honor, a trophy honoring their ability to withstand hardship. While resilience is a good skill to cultivate, everyone has limitations, and if those boundaries aren't respected, catastrophic consequences can occur.
That's why learning healthy stress management skills is a crucial part of taking care of one's well-being. Some effective stress management activities include:
Many who suffer from chronic stress may feel as if their issues are not "serious enough" to deal with. Make no mistake, however: uncontrolled stress is as serious as it gets.
If you struggle with controlling your stress, our team of qualified professionals at Overcomers Counseling can help you develop positive and effective methods for dealing with your stress. There's no need to suffer in silence-- your path to a better and more balanced life is a single phone call or e-mail away. Call 719-345-2424.
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Overcomers' is a mental health care practice serving Colorado with multiple locations in Colorado Springs and Denver! We have a passion for people and being a part of their experience as they overcome challenges. What will you overcome? Book a therapy session with one of our counselors here.