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Long-Term Chronic Stress: Understanding the Consequences

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At some point in their lifetime, everyone is bound to face some sort of stress. While it’s common, the intensity of people’s stress can vary from minor to more long-term chronic stress.

Many will claim to be ‘stressed’, but chronic stress takes the concept to a new level. It is a type of stress that can have incredibly negative effects long term. In some cases, these effects are so extreme that they take away from the overall quality of a person’s life, or even shorten the length of it.

Long-Term Effects of Chronic Stress on the Mind and Body

Here are some of the eye-opening consequences that can happen because of long-term chronic stress.

Aging signs on the face

Chronic stress can show up through aging signs on the face. Effects include dark circles under the eyes, and wrinkles on the forehead, mouth and between the eyes. Skin can also take on a dull appearance as chronic stress can cause a dip in estrogen.

Other effects can also include hair loss, adult acne, and teeth grinding.

Mental health problems

Mental health is important, and can be greatly affected by long-term chronic stress.

Problems such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders are known to arise as stress weighs on the mind. These stresses have an effect on the way that a person is able to live their daily life.

Weight gain, obesity, or other eating disorders

Chronic stress is known to increase the production of betatrophin in the body. This is the protein that blocks the enzyme that works to break down body fat. Long-term stress can make it difficult for the body to break down fat which can eventually lead to weight gain.

Obesity and other eating disorders can also happen as a result of the body not being able to break down fat. This is incredibly problematic as these disorders can have further effects on stress levels.

Memory loss over time

Memory loss is a common consequence of chronic stress as inflammation and the immune system are greatly affected. 

When stress is long-term and the memory is impacted, it can have great effects on relationships and the ability to perform with things like work or school.

Further spread of disease

This study shows that chronic stress can cause the further spread of cancer through the lymphatic system. It is also known to contribute to cardiovascular diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Many also experience gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable colon, ulcerative colitis, GERD and gastritis. These health problems can become quite serious, which is why it’s so important to deal with chronic stress head on.

Changes in mood and personality

When chronic stress starts to take over, it can have a big impact on your mood and personality over time. Stresses are known to affect a person’s overall personality and how they react to regular situations.

Higher levels of neuroticism mean for higher levels of irritability and commonly a more introverted personality.

Chronic fatigue from chronic stress

Those suffering from chronic stress are also commonly known to suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. Stress often leads to a lack of sleep as disrupted hormones make it difficult to fall asleep at night.

Some will experience reduced cortisol output during the first hour that they are awake, which is caused from chronic stress. This causes an imbalance in the regular working systems of the body that help to manage stress.  

Physical problems long-term

Other physical problems have the potential to arise over time with chronic stress. These include depression, anxiety, and digestive problems.

Some will experience sexual dysfunction and skin and hair problems such as acne, eczema, and hair loss.

It’s imperative to try and combat your chronic stress in order to avoid these potential consequences and get the help you need.

Ways to Help Combat Long-Term Chronic Stress

While combating long-term chronic stress for good takes time and dedication, there are a few simple techniques to get you started.

Practice self-awareness

In order to be able to combat chronic stress, it’s important to practice self-awareness. 

When someone suffering with chronic stress can understand their tipping point between dealing with regular stress and experiencing chronic stress, they can better manage it.

Recognizing the signs of overwhelming stress helps you to identify where that stress originates from and consciously make an effort to take a step back.

Learn more about how tuning into your body can promote resilience here.

Shift chronic stress with breathing techniques

Making a conscious effort to change your breathing during moments of extreme stress levels is also a great way to manage stress.

Your change in breath interrupts the involuntary stress response which makes for a better balance in the autonomic nervous system.

Deep exhales slow the heart rate down. This sends information to the brain so the autonomic nervous system is better regulated. This helps to keep overwhelming feelings at bay, and intentionally focus on stress reduction.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system (the system that regulates a variety of body processes that take place without conscious effort). When this nerve is stimulated, mood and stress levels, sleep focus and cognition, and athletic performance can all be effectively improved.

Our favorite ways to stimulate the vagus nerve is with Xen by Nuevana. Xen is a wellness technology invented by a top cardiac surgeon and is backed by science. Xen Headphones connect to a handheld device that generates an electrical current, stimulating the vagus nerve and helping to ease your chronic stress.

Tackle Your Chronic Stress

If you’re ready to start on your journey towards tackling your chronic stress with Xen by Nuevana you can shop the entire Xen by Neuvana collection here.

Looking to learn more? Take a look at our FAQ page where we cover what it feels like to use Xen headphones when to use Xen by Neuvana technology, and much more.

If you enjoyed this post, we have three more for you to check out:

10 Powerful Ways to Enhance Your Resilience

5 Tips on Vagus Nerve Stimulation to Try Today

Our Top Tips to Biohack Your Life & Eliminate Unwanted Stress

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