5 Long-Term Solutions to Chronic Stress

Stress is terrible for your body.

Although short-term stress can have its benefits (think running from a tiger), long-term stress can cause untold damage on the body. Our bodies were not meant to experience chronic stress.

What is chronic stress? Chronic stress is essentially prolonged stress that excludes daily stressors that people can normally handle and instead turns into something more serious. It can induce anxiety, cause high blood pressure, weaken the immune system, and even cause muscular pain.

When you are constantly stressed, your body loses the ability to cope.

There are ways you can deal with chronic stress that allow your body to recharge and break the cycle. Here are a few ways that you can stop chronic stress and more effectively deal with the stress that has taken over your life.

1. Know What Triggers You

When your stress feels constant, it’s not always easy to identify what triggers you. This is most noticeable in acute stress, which is the short-term stress we talked about that actually helps you to do stuff.

Chronic stress doesn’t help anyone do much of anything besides burn out.

Triggers can be anything that bothers you. If you find out your child has had an injury at school. When a supervisor asks you to take on new tasks. If your friend cancels plans to go out. When you find out that you didn’t pass the test.

What triggers you will be unique, although some triggers are arguably universal, such as finding out that family member is ill or getting into a fight with a spouse. The point is that being self-aware and knowing what your triggers are can help you to better handle them.

The next time a trigger comes—whether it’s a thought or a physical event—be still and pay attention to the way your body reacts. Allow your body to react but do not react to the feeling. If you can observe your reaction rather than become a part of it, you can help dissipate stress.

2. Meditate

Meditation can be difficult for beginners but even at just a few minutes a day, this practice has big benefits.

Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, help treat depression, and even help people suffering from chronic pain. It’s a safe, effective way to begin managing stress and enjoying life more.

So what exactly is meditation?

Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention on the present. An easy way to try this is to focus on your breathing for a few moments. Become aware of the way it feels to breathe. Breathe consciously rather than automatically. Do you feel that stillness that comes with observing and controlling your breath? That’s meditation.

It can feel difficult to take five minutes and consciously breathe in a comfortable position. Forget about the things you feel like you need to do. This simple routine can work wonders.

3. Don’t Use Food for Help

If you’re like me, chances are you find yourself with an open bag of potato chips during times of stress. Wait, what? What is that? Where did this delicious bag of potato chips come from? How did it get here? How… what… crunch.

As tempting as it is, using food for help will only set you up for failure. There are a few things going on here:

  1. Your body is in a state of stress, so cortisol is encouraging your body to store fat for the next time you get that short burst of adrenaline to run from the tiger (or, you know, your scary English professor).
  2. You’re not really paying attention to what you’re eating. Your mind is focused on the stressful situation at hand. This means you’re probably consuming more calories than you think you are.
  3. Food acts as a reward for your body. Some foods even release endorphins. So you’re basically using food like a drug to soothe yourself. This might seem ok at the time, but trust me when I say it’s a bad habit for your chronic stress.

Not everyone eats when they’re stressed. In fact, some people lose their appetite, so this may not be a problem for you. But if you mysteriously find yourself with a bag of potato chips really close to your face, don’t ask me how you got there.

4. Exercise

Exercise is going to be both your greatest enemy and your best friend.

Right now, it might feel like exercise is impossible whether it’s because of your to-do list or the current shape you’re in.

It’s not. You can do it. And it will majorly help you manage your chronic stress when you do.

Exercise not only releases endorphins, it builds something of a resistance to stress. In fact, some researchers believe that this form of physical stress can combat mental stress. Exercise makes you feel happier, less anxious, and at the end of the day, you’ll be more tired.

Since insomnia is often associated with chronic stress, exercise is a big win here. When you exercise, you’re helping to relieve muscle tension and boost endorphins, making you feel relaxed and happy.

If you’re not a regular exerciser, here are some good forms to try for beginners to ease yourself into it:

  • Go for a walk. It could be ten minutes. It could be an hour. Just do it! With a friend, with music, totally solo. Whatever works for you.
  • Swim. Swimming works so many different muscles in the body and burns major calories. It’s easy and if you know how to swim, this one’s as simple as swimming around in a pool for a bit.
  • Yoga. Take a beginner’s yoga class. The deep breathing and poses will have you feeling relaxed in no time.
  • Dance. It’s easy, you can do it at home, and no one can see you. Go for it!

Exercise might feel like a burden, but it could just save you from your chronic stress. Develop a simple routine and stick to it.

5. Get Enough Sleep

This is another important one. Getting enough sleep is absolutely essential to managing stress well. If you’re not getting eight hours every night, you’re doing your body a disservice.

Sleep recharges our bodies as well as our brains. It can feel difficult to wind down if you’re constantly stressed, but you can do it with the help of exercise as well as the other tips we discussed above.

Not getting enough sleep is associated with chronic disease as well as increased risk of death from an accident. It affects your emotional and physical health.

Stick to a routine when it comes to getting your sleep. Let nothing mess with that routine. This is your sacred time when you recharge to begin a new day. Manage stress better with a healthy sleeping schedule!


Stress doesn’t have to be chronic. Stress is a normal part of our lives; for many of us stress is a daily occurrence—just don’t let it be a constant one. You can manage your stress by identifying triggers, becoming more self-aware through meditation, and taking care of your body. This includes getting regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. You can manage chronic stress and feel better with just a few simple changes in your life!

8/22/2017 7:00:00 AM
Jenn Ryan
Written by Jenn Ryan
Jenn Ryan is a health and wellness extraordinaire who's fascinated by secret truths. She was last photographed at a tea shop in Washington DC wearing way too much glitter.
View Full Profile Website: http://www.thegreenwritingdesk.com/

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