Effects of Chronic Stress and Tips to Help Reduce Them

The majority of us know that feeling; anxiety and pressure slowly building, an unrelenting feeling of impending doom, heightened emotions, stress. Stress can manifest itself in positive and negative ways, from motivating us to get tasks done and used as a sense of heightened focus, to increasing or exacerbating most negative health problems, such as sleep problems, autoimmune issues, skin conditions, heart conditions and many more. So, what is stress and how can we learn to manage it better?

What is Stress?

In simple terms, stress is our body’s natural reaction to the demands we place on it or situations we have to deal with. It can keep you alive when in a life-threatening situation, commonly characterised as our “fight or flight” response. This response happens when the body releases stress hormones (most commonly cortisol and adrenaline), which then increase our heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing and senses. This allows us to react quickly in order to protect ourselves as best we can in the presence of danger. Sometimes, however, it isn’t life and death, but rather constant deadlines or tasks that need to be accomplished that become overwhelming and, if not dealt with, can turn into a chronic issue.

What’s Different About Chronic Stress

As amazing as our bodies are at keeping us alive in stressful situations, distinguishing between emotional and physical stress/threats can be a struggle. When you maintain a high level of stress for a long period of time, the body becomes used to being in this heightened state and becomes triggered far more easily, making it hard for the body to decipher the difference and react appropriately. The next step in the chronic stress continuum is when the body starts to disrupt vital systems in the body.

Examples of symptoms from systems affected by chronic stress:

  • Depression / mental health issues
  • Sleep issues / disturbances
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Skin conditions ie. Eczema
  • Reproductive issues
  • Heart issues / cardiovascular problems
  • Pain sensation
  • Memory and attention issues
  • Digestive problems

How Can We Manage Stress Better?

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one simple way of managing stress and our daily struggles or deadlines, but what we can do is recommend a few things to try in order to create a better balance over time.

  • Start taking sleep seriously – Too often we take sleep for granted and try to burn the midnight oil in order to catch up with deadlines etc. The problem with that is that sleep deprivation has been frequently linked to depression and mood disorders. Not only that, but prolonged sleep deprivation leading into insomnia can make us more prone to obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. Feel like you’re on your way to sleep deprivation? Check out our blog on sleep and some tips and tricks to optimise your well earned zzz’s here.
  • Move more in general – We know that not everyone is always super jazzed to exercise or go to a gym, and that’s okay! But what we do know, is that regularly moving and increasing your physical activity will help with many aspects of stress including our endocrine (hormone) system with dopamine and cortisol levels. We also get a nice boost of endorphins which help us to feel happier. Interested in exercise and stress? Check out this write-up from Harvard Health for more ideas and tips here.
  • Create a “must-do” list – Sometimes it gets too easy to let your brain run with every little thing that needs to get achieved, leading to a sense of impending doom and increased emotional stress. This is where the power of lists can be handy! Write down your weekly “must-do” tasks and then narrow down how you’ll spend your time achieving them. As for those smaller tasks – something that you’ll see high end executives use to get through an insane list of things to do – delegate! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from colleagues, family members, partners, whoever can help you to take some of the burden off. Looking for ways to help you focus on crushing your tasks more effectively? Check out our focus blog here
  • Come up with a “stress buster” activity – When you start to feel as though your stress cup is full and about to overflow, find that one activity or thing that allows you to quickly get some endorphins going. A short walk, a much needed mobility session, even a relaxing cup of tea. Find your thing that gives you a quick break from the stress cycle! Ideally something that touches on our move more in general idea, but anything that helps is better than nothing.
  • Dive into your diet – Chronic stress tends to create cravings for salty, sweet and fried foods that give us a burst of quick energy and pleasure. The downside is that these foods don’t often help our body for longer than that quick burst as opposed to eating good de-stressing, nutrient-dense food. Food that has been linked to lowering stress levels include: bananas, salmon, broccoli, green leafy veggies, natural oils (like olive oil). For more foods that help and hinder our stress levels take a look here.
  • Talk more and seek help – Talking about how you’re feeling and dealing with your stress can be incredibly helpful but sometimes can feel like you’re simply burdening those around you. Remember that loved ones will always listen and try to help, but if you’re in need of more, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Talking with a psychologist can not only help you to vocalise what is affecting you, but can help create a plan using different techniques, such as cognitive behaviour change which can help us to modify some of our behaviours, thoughts, and concerning stressors. People go to University to specialise in these areas and thus, are very good at helping to come up with solutions. If you had a broken arm you wouldn’t hesitate to see a doctor to help heal it, think of your mental health and stress levels in the same context, if you can’t fix it yourself then there is no shame in seeking help.
  • Give CBD a try – CBD has many benefits (check our blog on 4 key benefits here) but one of the main reasons we became passionate about it, was it’s ability to assist the body in so many areas. Since the Endocannabinoid System is interlinked with almost every area of the body, it makes sense that if you’re dealing with stress manifesting in many ways, that CBD could help you to optimise your body functions. From helping you focus, to calming a busy mind, to falling asleep quicker and getting a better quality sleep, CBD can be a game changer in starting or continuing your journey to a more stress-free life. Ensure that you choose the right CBD, so that you aren’t getting any harmful substances or contaminants that could further increase the internal stress on your body. Make sure you choose a UK certified, third-party lab tested CBD to give you more peace of mind and confidence in your choice. As healthcare professionals we understand the processes of chronic stress on the body and this was a driving force behind creating PURE 100 CBD, a product designed by clinicians in an industry focused on helping clients to feel better through holistic treatment.

Stress is something we will all inevitably deal with in our lifetime, but having ways of managing it and understanding how our body reacts can help us to avoid chronic stress and all its knock-on effects. If you have any further questions on how PURE 100 CBD can help you with your stress, or any concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.