Stress can be a good thing, but too much of it can lead to chronic stress which affects your health and well-being negatively. Recognizing the symptoms of chronic stress early on could save a girl or teen’s life and well-being. Awareness of these symptoms are vital for a stressed teen in order to overcome and avoid chronic stress. I will cover some important points that may help you become aware of these symptoms and help you manage them effectively.
Definition of chronic stress
Chronic stress can have a severe emotional toll on girls and teens if left untreated. The recovery rate for acute (or short term) stress can be relatively quick, whereas chronic (or long term) stress can lead to more serious issues and is a lot more difficult to overcome.
Chronic stress is the prolonged period of stress which a person experiences in response to extensive emotional pressure. People with chronic stress often feel or perceive that they have little or no control of the stress, which can lead to a variety of health problems.
If left untreated, this chronic stress could lead to other more serious health and mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar, addiction disorders and so forth.
Indications of chronic stress
To recognize the symptoms of chronic stress, it is important to identify various cognitive, behavioral, physical and emotional cues. Chronic stress wears down your body’s natural defenses and makes it difficult for you to function in normal everyday life or activities. If you recognize any of these symptoms within yourself or someone you know, please attend to it as soon as possible.
Cognitive symptoms include:
- Constant worrying about small or big challenges or issues
- Decreased or poor sense of judgment
- Memory loss/impairment
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Feelings of anxiety and panic
- Overactive thoughts of negativity
Behavioral symptoms include:
- Unhealthy appetite (over/under eating)
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Nervous habits (for example excessive tapping, nail-biting, teeth grinding etc.)
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolation or withdrawal from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Agitation and increased sensitivity
Physical symptoms include:
- Body aches and pains
- Tension in various places (for example neck, shoulders, face, back etc.)
- Digestive problems (for example diarrhea, constipation, indigestion)
- Nausea and dizziness
- Chest pain and/or rapid heart rate
- Frequent colds or flu
Emotional symptoms include:
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Feeling overwhelmed
You could be experiencing one, more or even all of these symptoms when having chronic stress.
Speaking from experience, these symptoms can be left unnoticed for a period. Once these symptoms start piling up, it eventually gets you to the point where you completely break down. You try to tell yourself that you are OK, but when the pressure tips, even in the slightest and that bomb of yours bursts, then you feel like there is no recovery point for you.
I have been there, so I know it can be a daunting experience. I remember times when I would get panic attacks while busy doing something completely ordinary (nothing that was even stressful, for example brushing my teeth). The thing is, because I did not know how to manage my stress, and how to recognize the symptoms, all the stressors in my life started piling up more and more until it got to a point where the stack was just too high to cope with (and this happened time and time again). After the panic attack was over, I would be “OK” for a short while, but I never realized that the anxiety was not being treated.
Therefore, I feel that it is important to share my experience, so that you (or someone that you feel may be going through high stress levels) can learn to manage it early on – before it gets to the point where you cannot function in your daily life.
Managing chronic stress
There are various ways to manage your stress levels in order to diminish the negative impact they may have on your physical and mental health. Some of these ways include meditation; learning new coping and prioritizing strategies; healthy eating habits; open communication with loved ones or friends, among others.
Sometimes it may feel that the stress is too much to cope with, and you might feel that you do not have the energy to try new strategies. It is therefore important that you seek professional help. There is no shame in needing therapy or treatment programs. The sooner your symptoms can be identified, the quicker you can get assistance to manage your stress levels.
Early detection of your stress levels can prevent your stress leading to chronic stress, in turn you will feel happier and healthier.
Be honest with yourself and others. If you feel that the pressure is too high, speak up. Don’t let your health and well-being be jeopardized on account of stress. Be aware of what you are experiencing and feeling, and seek help if need be. Remember, you are never alone, no matter how alone you think you feel in that situation.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you need any advice. I am not a medical professional, but I have gone through troubling and stressful times and received the help I needed to overcome it. I would love to share my experience with you and help where I can.