Most people often don’t recognize the amount of stress they regularly experience and how it negatively affects their bodies. For those in recovery from addiction, learning to de-stress is critical for preventing relapse, and one should work with trained therapists to learn recovery-supportive techniques.
Sometimes we are fatigued and anxious, and we aren’t sure why. Although our bodies can handle some level of stress or stimulation in daily life, there can be points when stress becomes too much (also known as “chronic stress”) and poorly impacts the body. In fact, over-stress may affect all our bodies’ systems, including nervous, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and endocrine systems.
Chronic Stress and the Body’s Systems
We all know that when the body feels stressed, there tends to be muscle tension. Chronic or unreleased stress may cause muscles to remain in a state of guardedness, leading to headaches, migraine, neck or shoulder pain. Stress can also cause shortness of breath, impacting the respiratory system. People with pre-existing respiratory diseases such as asthma may experience breathing problems under stress. Acute stress can also trigger asthma attacks.
Furthermore, the body responds to stress with an increase in heart rate to provide oxygen to the body. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can also cause contractions of heart muscles. This is known as the “fight or flight” response of the cardiovascular system. Repeated stress may contribute to the inflammation in the circulatory system, causing heart attacks.
During a “fight or flight” response, the nervous system interprets the situation as threatening and regulates physical reactions such as sweating or mind fog. Chronic stress makes the nervous system stay in a state of continuous activation, causing more damage to the body. People may lose sleep under acute stress, and sleep deprivation can worsen cognition and emotional health. This is often a vicious cycle.
Recognizing Signs of Chronic Stress
Stress is a natural reaction to threats or challenges in our environment. It can sometimes motivate us to act, like taking care of family members and work responsibilities. Some stressful experiences are short-term and the body recuperates by resting. However, when the level of stress becomes acute or chronic, that is when it begins taking a toll on your health. Symptoms of chronic or acute stress include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and continued headaches.
Because chronic stress compromises your immune system, you may take more time to recover from an illness or injury. People under chronic stress are also more susceptible to viral illnesses such as the flu or the common cold. When you develop frequent fevers or common cold symptoms, the body may be sending signals that you need rest. Overwork stress, for example, may also cause the body to have more inflammations and fevers.
Chronic stress may also cause cognitive or memory loss. This is because the hippocampus, a part of the brain which usually has the highest density of receptors that respond to stress, is also the center of memory processing and cognitive abilities. Research has shown that acute stress can cause functional changes in the brain’s hippocampus. A high concentration of stress hormones may cause memory disorders.
Releasing Stress From the Body
The body needs to relax from time to time in order to release the impact of stress. This is also known as stress management. There are many stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, massage, music therapy, nature walks, or even just a hot bath. Combined with regular physical exercises, these healthy self-care practices can also reduce muscle tension and regulate heart rate. You need to develop a set of de-stressing techniques that work for your lifestyle and personality.
Maintaining a healthy social support network can also be helpful for stress caused by isolation. Socialization is an effective method of stress reduction by maintaining a sense of connectedness to others. You can join a book club, call on an old friend to chat, and hang out with family members. Social support enhances the balancing of hormones, especially with increases in the level of oxytocin, which functions to lower anxiety levels.
Engaging in altruistic community service can also decrease stress. Focusing on helping others in need can provide you with a perspective of gratitude and contentment. You can choose to incorporate community service into your stress management plan and select activities that you enjoy doing.
Most importantly, enough rest and proper sleep create the foundation of a stress management plan. Realize the importance of sleep being a body-mind state of sensory detachment that impacts every system of the body. Make it a habit to unplug from the busyness of life and work demands. Follow a regular sleep routine and find ways to improve sleep quality.
Do you know that over-stress may affect all our bodies’ systems, including nervous, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and endocrine systems? For those in recovery from addiction, learning to de-stress is critical for preventing relapse. One should work with trained therapists to learn recovery-supportive techniques. At Capo Canyon Recovery, near Mission Viejo, CA., we take pride in our holistic, incremental path to sustainable and long-term recovery. We focus on each stage of recovery, both in terms of physical health and mental health. Both our inpatient residential care and outpatient long-term care programs offer unmatched benefits. We provide excess comfort during your sobriety journey with an in-house chef, luxurious beds, and an onsite organic garden. With Capo Canyon Recovery, you can rely on us to help you achieve long-term sobriety. By coaching you to cope with upcoming stress and challenges, you can start your journey with experienced recovery experts today. Call us at (800) 804-8714.