Short-Term Vs Long-Term Stress
We are all exposed to stress in our day-to-day lives. So what makes some stress good for us, and some bad for us? And what should we be doing about it?
Well, let’s start with the good stress. Good stress is when we are exposed to something that is stressful but prompts us to do something about it like move away from the stress, deal with the stress, or make a decision. This type of action in regards to the stress means it is usually short-term and therefore has a short-term physiological effect on the body. A lot of people use this stress at work and with sport.
Bad stress. This is the stress that is low in nature but persistently stays, it can have a very negative effect on all aspects of the body such as emotionally, socially, cognitively, physiologically. It can lead to anxiety and depression and poor relationships with others and ourselves.
What can short-term stress look like?
• Deadline at work
• Racing/running to catch the bus when you are running late
• Aiming for a hole in one • About to meet with your boss to resign
• Shallow breathing
• Thoughts moving faster
• Movements may be faster
• Scattered thoughts
• Focused thoughts
What does long-term stress look like?
• Constant feeling of doom (can also be a sign of anxiety and/or depression)
• Frequently raised heart rate with no known danger/emergency
• Loss of appetite or increase in appetite
• Negative thought patterns
• Changes in weight/skin/hair
• Constantly tired
• Difficulty thinking straight/concentrating/making decisions
Long-term stress tends to present more as physiological, psychological symptoms with little-known cause, short-term stress can have a very specific cause and can usually be identified. Sometimes we know the cause of long-term stress such as; financial difficulties, poor work satisfaction, poor relationships, travel time to and from work and little time at home with friends and family, missed opportunities, unattempted life goals and passions, feeling like there is ‘something more’, but we are not sure how to change it, which in itself can be stressful.
What are ways to reduce long-term stress? Everyone will be different in how they approach this as everyone’s situation is different, however, here are a few things to consider:
• What is that you want to do?
• What do you enjoy doing?
• How can you increase what you enjoy doing?
• How can you reduce the exposure to things that make you unhappy?
• What is it that makes you unhappy and why?
Some very simple things that we can all do to assist with managing stress is also staying healthy. After answering some of the above questions through writing, lists, mind maps (whatever works for you) will give you some insight into what is possibly causing you unhappiness or stress and it also makes you think about what makes you happy and what you would rather be doing and assist you to start thinking about how you can increase this/these?
Along with answering and acknowledging these questions and answers are some straightforward approaches.
• Ensure that you are eating a healthy whole foods diet
• Ensure that you are getting adequate appropriate exercise that improves your health ie does not become a further source of stress
• Ensure that you are getting enough sleep
• Ensure that you have time to do activities that you enjoy some of the time (prioritise)
• Ensure that you spend time with people whom you enjoy their company some of the time.
There are no quick answers to dealing with long-term stress and reducing the effects it has on our body and our lives, however, being aware that it is there and observing from a place of curiosity and what we actually want can assist us to reduce and manage it, is a start. If you would like some assistance with exploring any passions, goals and move away from long-term stress issues do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]
Have a great day.