Chronic Stress Impacting Your Health?
All around us we hear that stress is bad. But is it really? When you exercise, you feel physical stress and the intent is to improve your physical capacity to be stronger or faster. The stress response of fight, flight, or freeze will help you in an emergency. But what about daily stress at home or at work? Daily stress can result in chronic stress, which can severely impact your health. Learn about the negative health effects of chronic stress and some things you can do to reduce them.
What Is Chronic Stress?
The stress response has been critical for the survival of people from pre-historic times. But in the modern world, we’re not worried about being eaten by a mountain lion. Everyday pressures from home and work or experiencing a traumatic experience can result in the stress response being nearly constantly triggered. This leads to chronic stress and several related health issues, which are discussed below.
Your nervous system is broken into a number of different parts, including the central nervous system (CNS), that includes the brain and spinal column and the peripheral nervous system that is everything else. One part of the peripheral nervous system is the autonomic, meaning involuntary, and that is broken into two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. These two systems work opposite each other with the sympathetic system (SNS) being responsible for flight, fight, or freeze responses and the parasympathetic for rest and bodily regulation.
The Effects Of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress can affect several areas of the body’s functionality and processes producing psychological, emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. Symptoms will vary considerably by person and often interfere with productivity, relationships, and health.
On Your Body?
The effects of chronic stress on the body often include feeling tired, trouble sleeping, and muscle tiredness. In addition, chronic stress can wear down the body’s immune system, making us more susceptive to illnesses. The long-term effects can include developing hyperthyroidism, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or cardiovascular disease.
On Your Mind?
A stressful occupation, lifestyle, relationship, or environment can keep your mind in a constant state of stimulation. A 2017 review showed that chronic stress impacts your long and short-term memory and impedes learning. This can affect work, family, and relationships through perceptions of inattention to the people closest to you.
On Your Emotional Health?
There are many ways chronic stress can affect your emotional well-being and emotional/mental health. For example, when chronic stress results in mood disorders one can develop behavioral problems, cognitive issues, or personality changes. These conditions can cause symptoms ranging from insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, irritability, and feelings of self-hate and guilt. Experiencing these emotional strains can complicate the way you approach your daily life and limit your social interaction with peers and family.
Ways To Treat Chronic Stress
Many of the symptoms above may require treatment by a medical professional, especially those with long-term complications like IBS, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Your doctor will likely recommend a number of treatment options like medications, psychotherapy, switching to a healthier diet, and/or a lifestyle change that makes enough time for leisure, rest, and sleep. Other strategies include meditation, yoga, exercise, and cold therapy.
How Cold Therapy Helps Treat Chronic Stress
A scientific review of evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy, specifically cold water immersion therapy, on various body systems showed there were improvements in immunity, the management of pain, fatigue, anxiety, and lowered heart rate and blood pressure. Trials involving one hour, head-out water immersions in various temperatures(32°C, 20°C, and 14°C) produced lowered heart rate by 15%, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure by 11% and 12%, respectively. The review also concurred that regular winter swimming significantly decreased tension, fatigue, and mood negative state points while increasing vigor, relieving pain, and improving general well-being.
Additionally, a 2020 controlled trial found that whole-body cold therapy improved well-being and psychological issues such as depression and mood disorders with effects lasting at least two weeks. Another controlled trial conducted in 2018 found that stimulating the vagus nerve in the neck via cold therapy resulted in reduced heart rate and improved heart rate variability for people with regular daily stress. More studies show cold exposure has been linked to increased cognitive capacity, improved energy levels, and enhanced sleep.
Using Ice Barrel To Combat Chronic Stress
A cold plunge in an Ice Barrel is a quick and easy way to not only invigorate your senses but also tackle multiple symptoms of chronic stress. Adding a cold water dip takes less than 15 minutes a day and there are proven improvements in chronic stress symptoms.
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