Chronic Stress: Is this the new normal?

Stress is something that we all talk about, however, I’m not sure we realise what a profound effect stress has on our health or hidden stress that we may not even consider.

Stress arises when environmental demands are perceived as taxing or potentially exceeding one’s own capacity or resources to adapt to them, and there is threat to well-being if coping responses do not satisfy such demands.1

Chronic stress has almost become a ‘normal’ part of life. I have noticed in the last 5 years that when I ask people how they are, they often reply with ‘I’ve been so busy!’

Have our lives become more complicated and busier or are we feeling like we need to fill our days more and more? Australians have had a lot of stress over the last 2 years. First, we had the devastating Black Summer bushfires, and then just a short time after COVID 19 hit our shores.

I know that personally when COVID 19 hit and we went into lockdown it really made me slow down and to be honest I haven’t returned to many of the activities I was previously doing. I am one of those people who pushes themselves and always overcommits and lockdown really made me look at what I was doing and change my behaviour which has allowed me to feel a lot more balanced in body and mind.

The problem with chronic stress is that something has to give eventually. For each person this is different and chronic stress symptoms can present in many different ways, including2:

  • irritability, which can be extreme
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • difficulty concentrating, or an inability to do so
  • rapid, disorganized thoughts
  • difficulty sleeping
  • digestive problems
  • changes in appetite
  • feeling helpless
  • a perceived loss of control
  • low self-esteem
  • loss of sexual desire
  • nervousness
  • frequent infections or illnesses

There are 3 main types of stress:

Physical – past traumas and injuries, poor posture, repetitive movements, sitting or standing for too long

Chemical – what we eat, breathe, drink and put on our bodies

Emotional – resentment, anger, grief, fear, frustrations, information overload, worry, anxiety.

Some things we know that can help to reduce stress on the body3 are as simple as:

If you are suffering from any or many of the above symptoms then it might be time to have a look at the stressors in your life and employ strategies to mitigate these.

If you aren’t sure where to start, have a chat with your health practitioner. There is also an amazing and comprehensive questionnaire called a Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment (LHRA) that can give you a great starting point by helping to identify the area you may need to address.

Contact us for more information.