Written by: Christy Roberts, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Medical research estimates as much as 90% of illness and disease is stress-related. Some stress can be healthy and is a natural response to perceived threats or challenges, but chronic and ongoing stress can most definitely have negative effects on our physical, emotional and mental health.
Chronic stress is a type of stress that occurs over a prolonged period of time. Unlike acute stress, which is a short-term stress response that helps the body cope with a perceived threat or challenge, chronic stress can persist for weeks, months, or even years.
Chronic stress can contribute to the development of a range of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. It can also lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, mood disorders and substance abuse.
Chronic stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including ongoing financial difficulties, work-related stress, chronic health conditions, grief, trauma, and relationship problems, to name a few. The body's stress response system, which is designed to help us respond to acute stress, can become overactive when exposed to ongoing chronic stress.
As a Life Coach and the Global Self Directed Healing Practitioner Trainer, I have seen firsthand the impact that these factors can have on individuals. In this article, I will explore the effects of stress and unprocessed emotions on our health and well-being and provide heaps of tips for managing them.
The Symptoms and Impacts of Stress
Here are some examples of how stress and emotional pain can affect different aspects of our lives:
Increased risk of cardiovascular disease: Chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes.
Weakened or suppressed immune system: Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness and disease.
Physical tension: When you are stressed or experiencing emotional pain, your muscles may become tense and tight. This can lead to headaches and physical pain, especially in the neck, shoulders, and back.
Chronic pain: Long-term stress and emotional pain can lead to chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Digestive problems: Stress can disrupt the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.
Sleep disturbances: Stress and emotional pain can affect the quality and quantity of sleep, leading to fatigue, impaired cognitive function and other health problems.
Mental Health: Stress can cause anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. If left unaddressed, it can lead to more serious mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder.
Cognitive function and memory: can be affected and impaired.
Relationship problems: Stress and emotional pain can have negative impacts on our relationships with others. People who are experiencing high levels of stress and emotional pain may become withdrawn, socially isolated, irritable, or have difficulty communicating with others. You may be more prone to conflict, communication problems, and difficulties with intimacy, putting further strain on relationships.
Disconnection from self and others: When feeling stressed it can lead to apathy or disconnection. We can disconnect from social situations, nature, exercise, activities, hobbies, even ourselves. There could be missed opportunities for self-care activities to recover and recharge. This can lead to a monotonous and unbalanced lifestyle, plus feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Work Performance: Stress and emotional pain can affect a person's ability to concentrate, focus and be productive at work. It can also lead to absenteeism, reduced job satisfaction, and even job loss in some cases.
Cellular aging: Chronic stress has been associated with an increased risk of premature aging and accelerated cellular aging.
Self-destructive behaviors: Emotions that are not processed can lead to self-destructive behaviors such as overeating, undereating, self-harm, and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Addictions & substance abuse: Stress is associated with an increased risk of substance abuse and addiction.
Self-Care: When someone is experiencing stress and emotional pain, they may struggle to take care of themselves. This can lead to neglecting basic needs such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, and hygiene.
Overall, stress and deep emotional pain can have a significant impact on a person's physical, emotional, and social well-being. If left unmanaged, chronic stress can have a significant negative impact on your overall well-being and quality of life.
It is essential to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional if you are struggling with stress and emotional pain.
Tips to Recognise and Manage Stress
The impact of stress varies based on individual factors such as genetics, environment, and personal coping strategies. Therefore, to optimise your well-being, manage and cope with your stress effectively, you need to determine your limits and find what works best for you.
Some self-awareness tips to help you recognise and manage stress include:
Listen to your body: Your body gives you valuable information about your stress levels. Pay attention to physical symptoms, such as tension in your muscles or changes in your appetite, and use this information to take action.
Take breaks: Taking regular breaks can help you manage stress and prevent burnout. This may involve stepping away from your desk for a few minutes to stretch or take a walk, or simply taking a few deep breaths. Make time for activities you enjoy and that help you relax, such as going for a walk, listening to music, or spending time with friends and loved ones.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, you can become more aware of the signs of stress in your body and mind.
Practice self-care: Self-care is essential for managing stress. Engage in activities that promote your physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and taking time for relaxation and fun.
Get outside: Spending time in nature and getting fresh air and sunlight can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Set boundaries: Saying no to commitments that cause you stress or taking breaks from work or other responsibilities can help you manage stress and prevent burnout. One of the most important steps in managing cultural stress is to set boundaries. Learn to say no to requests or obligations that are not essential or that will add too much stress to your life. Be mindful of your limits and prioritize the things that are most important to you. This may involve setting limits on work hours, disconnecting from technology outside of work hours, and prioritising rest and relaxation.
Prioritise relationships: Strong social connections can help us manage stress and provide a support system during difficult times. Prioritising relationships with friends and family can help us build resilience and cope with stress more effectively. Make time for relationships that bring you joy and help you feel supported. Here’s more information on Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships.
Keep a (stress) journal: Keeping a journal is a fabulous self-reflection and awareness activity that can help you identify patterns in your stress and how it affects you. By recording your thoughts and emotions, you may be able to identify triggers and then practice connecting with your emotions so they are processed and healed. Take time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It can help you gain clarity, release pent-up emotions, and explore your thoughts and feelings in a safe and private space.
Practice Self Directed Healing: Learn to connect with and feel your emotions and limiting beliefs. Self Directed Healing is an extremely effective way to process emotional pain and energy, especially if it is stuck or trapped in your body. Once emotions are fully felt they release and leave the body, resulting in you feeling much calmer and balanced.
Build a support network: Building a support network of friends, family, and peers can be an important source of emotional support and encouragement. Reach out to others for help and support when you need it, and be willing to offer support to others in return.
Seek professional support: If you are struggling with emotional or mental challenges, it's important to seek professional support. A Coach, Self Directed Healing Practitioner or mental health professional can provide guidance and support to help you navigate difficult emotions and develop coping strategies. Don't be afraid to reach out for support when you need it.
Practice good time management: Prioritizing tasks and breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps can help you reduce feelings of overwhelm and stress. Learn to Master Your Time so that you can Master Your Life.
Avoid self-medicating: Using substances like alcohol, drugs, or overeating to cope with stress can actually make stress worse in the long run. Find healthier ways to manage stress.
Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Practice self-compassion by recognizing your strengths and limitations and treating yourself with empathy and understanding.
Find meaning: Finding meaning and purpose in your life can help you stay motivated and resilient in the face of stress. This may involve pursuing a hobby, volunteering, or engaging in activities that align with your values. If you feel you have no clear direction or purpose, get some Life Coaching.
Develop healthy coping strategies: Focus on developing healthy coping strategies such as self-directed healing, deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation. You can also practice progressive muscle relaxation, yoga or visualization. These strategies can help you stay calm and centered in the face of challenges.
Work Life Balance: Is your life balanced across the different areas: career, relationships, health & fitness, hobbies & interests, wealth & abundance? If you are out of balance, this creates a roll-on stress effect in your body and nervous system. When you work towards gaining a greater balance in all the different aspects of your life, you will inevitably feel less stress. Here are some more tips on better work life balance.
Remember, everyone experiences stress, and it's a normal part of life. However, it's important to recognise when stress becomes overwhelming and is taking a toll on your mental and physical health. You want to control your stress, not have it controlling you.
How Does Emotion Affect Stress?
Stress is an emotion. It’s a feeling in the body.
Unfortunately, in our Western culture, we are not accustomed or raised to feel our full emotional range in healthy ways.
When we experience emotions, our bodies respond in various ways, including changes in heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension. If we don't process these emotions, for example sadness or anger, they can become stuck, suppressed or repressed in our body.
There are a multitude of ways that emotion affects our stress levels and considerable benefits in learning how to process them.
When we learn to recognize and process emotions in a healthy way, we can develop greater self-awareness and improve our resilience and ability to cope with stress and challenging situations. Improving emotional intelligence and balance can help us to better understand ourselves and our needs, leading to greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.
By developing self-awareness and healthy coping mechanisms, we can reduce the impact of stress on our bodies and improve our ability to navigate the challenges of life.
In fact, I’m so passionate about this topic that I have developed and run an Emotional Balance Workshop. If you want to hear more about this please reach out.
In many ways I feel like my role as a Coach, Healer and Educator, at its core, is teaching people how to feel and express themselves, in natural and healthy ways. I work with many individuals to develop personalized strategies for managing the stress they feel in their life.
How Does the Body Feel When it is Not Stressed?
When the body is not stressed, you will typically feel relaxed and at ease. Physiologically, your body may exhibit a lower heart rate, normal blood pressure, and more regulated breathing. Plus, your muscles may be more relaxed, and there’s a general feeling of well-being and calmness.
When your body is not experiencing stress, you will likely have more energy and be able to focus better. Your mind can feel clearer, and there may be a greater sense of mental clarity and emotional stability. Additionally, your body should be better able to regulate its systems, including the immune system, digestive system, and reproductive system.
Overall, when your body is not experiencing stress, it can feel more balanced, peaceful, and harmonious, which is often associated with a greater sense of well-being and a more positive outlook on life.
I facilitate a range of virtual workshops catering to both the general public and corporate clients. With my expertise as a Coach and Healer, specialising in assisting high achievers and leaders, I often find that many of my clients commence our sessions burdened with overwhelming stress.
Witnessing their remarkable transformations and the newfound balance and calm they achieve through our ongoing collaboration is a true honor and privilege. I firmly believe that diminishing stress levels is entirely attainable.
By implementing these tips, you can develop a toolbox of skills and strategies for managing stress and processing emotional and mental challenges. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you navigate the ups and downs of life, and be willing to reach out for help and support when you need it.
Remember, small changes can add up to big results, so be patient and consistent in your efforts to create a healthier you, and a more sustainable and balanced life.
Christy Roberts, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Christy is the Global Self Directed Healing Practitioner Trainer, an award-winning Coach, and Grief Educator with over 20+ years of Human Resources and Organisational Development experience.
She helps people journey through the toughest of life’s challenges, like grief, trauma, anger, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, fear, overwhelm, stress, and burnout.
Christy is passionate about unlocking our human potential, transforming mindsets, and supporting people to get out of their own way and live their ultimate lives by achieving the success and results they desire.
She provides Coaching, Self Directed Healing, Workshops, and Educational Resources that positively impact people, leaders, and workplaces.
As Founder of Creating Change, she is driven to make a change in our society and culture, so that we are more authentically connected to ourselves and living with passion and purpose.