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Chronic Stress

 

Explanations > Stress > Chronic Stress

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

Chronic stress is the long-term and repeating stress that we feel in particular circumstances and contexts. It is a response to emotional pressure that can come from within or from outside the person.

It is like a low-level ache that steadily wears the person out, draining them of energy and motivation. Much chronic stress comes from the general pressures of living.

Example

A person gets up each day and dreads going to work.

A parent feels life is an endless stream of work, cooking, tidying and trying to get the children through life reasonably well.

A manager feels their staff do not like them. They try being nice and are met only with cynicism. When they have to apply discipline, they feel resented. Coupled with pressure to deliver from above, they live each day at a time and try not to think about the continued stress of tomorrow.

Discussion

Chronic stress is caused through the endocrine system where corticosteroids are released. This activates the sympathetic nervous system which releases epinephrine and norepinephrine. This response is intended to provide energy to respond to threats, but left in the body leads to problems such as high blood pressure, muscle damage and suppression of the immune system (so it becomes easier to become ill). It even changes the brain, affecting memory, decision-making and aggression.

So what?

Avoiding chronic stress can be helped by either getting out of the situations where there is stress, such as changing one's job, or finding ways to not be stressed so much by the pressures of life.

In persuading one another, we often use chronic stress, for example when we nag or command on a regular basis. This wears people down so they give in more easily. It is a relatively clumsy and harmful approach. The more subtle methods used in this website can be more effective at persuading while also being less harmful to the other person.

See also

Stress Management

 

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