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Chronic stress happens when we feel overwhelmed, leaving us with the constant worry that we won’t be able to escape from it.

Stress is a natural response produced by the body and can be caused by many things, such as your work, family, relationships, and other aspects of your busy life. While a small amount of stress is healthy, persistent worrying can lead to mental and physical health problems such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

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How to manage chronic stress

If you’re feeling stressed, it’s not your fault. Stress is a natural part of life that can help us prepare for situations that require us to perform at our best. Some stress is good for us – it can boost our performance and help us meet deadlines and projects we’re working on. However, when stress becomes chronic – meaning it lasts a long time and affects our daily lives – it can begin to take its toll, and steps may need to be taken to manage it. Luckily, there are many ways to address chronic stress so that it doesn’t negatively impact your day-to-day life.

Here are just a few things you can do yourself at home:

Recognize the vicious cycle of stress

Recognizing stress is the first step in allowing you to control it so that it doesn’t control you. Stress is a normal response when our body goes into fight or flight mode, releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that help you cope. However, these hormones can, in turn, lead to physical symptoms such as headaches and insomnia, especially when it becomes chronic.

Experiencing chronic stress only leads to more chronic stress, wearing down the body and making it difficult for you to cope with everyday challenges. This means that you are putting yourself under more pressure than usual, and your body will not be responding as well, making it harder for you to focus on daily tasks. You may even begin to feel physically exhausted because sleep becomes harder after long days of constant pressure and worry.

As you can see, this pattern will only continue, making it increasingly difficult for those suffering from chronic stress and leading them into a vicious cycle that is hard to escape. By recognizing this cycle, you can begin to understand why you feel as you are and try to change your mindset throughout the day.

Engage in physical exercise

Exercise is the last thing you probably feel like doing when you’re stressed. However, it turns out that getting physical is a great way to break the vicious cycle of chronic stress. Regular exercise has been shown to help with stress management by improving sleep quality, reducing tension and anxiety, boosting mood, increasing energy levels, and improving focus.

If you’re not used to exercising regularly, start gently at first – aim for just 10 minutes a day until it becomes a part of your routine. You will find just a tiny amount of exercise can do wonders for your brain and help you relax in between stressful periods, breaking the cycle of chronic worrying. Regular exercising will also give you more energy in general, allowing you to get more done throughout the day so that those tasks won’t be weighing on your mind when it comes to bedtime.

Exercise mindfulness and meditation

Practicing mindfulness and meditation is another way to help manage chronic stress. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judging them – a skill that can help reduce anxiety and negative emotions.

Research has also found that mediation can increase activity in parts of the brain associated with self-control, making it easier to cope with difficult situations and protect our minds from worry. If you’re unsure where to begin meditation, many people find guided meditation helpful. However, if you’d prefer to manage your practice, there are many different types of meditation for every personality type – the key is finding one that works for you.

Connect with friends and family

Sometimes the best medicine for chronic stress is connecting with those around you. For example, reaching out to a friend or family member and letting them know you are struggling can be an easy way to relieve some of your burdens.

Chronic stress is not something to be ashamed of and can’t be battled alone for some people, so talking to someone may be the first step to taking better care of yourself.

Get adequate sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the most effective ways to manage stress, as it’s a great way to relax. It’s suggested that a person should try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, removing distractions such as phones from the bedroom to increase sleep performance.

If you’re still struggling to sleep, try to calm your mind before settling down by either getting a bath, reading a book, or practicing meditation. Getting an adequate amount of sleep will not only help relieve stress but can also have many other general health benefits, including:

  • Improving memory and learning: Sleep helps to consolidate memories from the previous day, making it easier to recall what you learned.
  • Boosting creativity: Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to be less creative and less able to form new ideas due to their minds being busy processing the experiences of the day.
  • Making your immune system more robust: Sleep can help you fight off infection more effectively so that you don’t have to worry about feeling unwell on top of your other stresses.

Be kind to yourself and set realistic goals

When suffering from chronic stress, it’s essential to be kind to your mind and body. Remember that no one is perfect, and everybody has worries of their own that they are dealing with, just like you.

However, never compare yourself to others as you are your person, and everybody copes with things differently. If something seems insurmountable for you, let it go until you feel more vital to deal with it.

Seek professional help

If you’re struggling with chronic stress and can’t seem to manage it on your own, it might be time to get some more help. Licensed professionals such as therapists, doctors, and counselors will be able to help you work through your feelings and hopefully find a solution for managing your worries.