Three Stages of Chronic Stress
Everyone goes through stress at some point in their life, whether it be monetary, family or job stress. However, most of us can deal with the stressor in a timely manner so that it does not substantially affect our health. But how do you know if you are under acute stress or chronic stress? What are the signs? According to the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS) there are three stages to stress.
Stage 1: The “Pepto Bismol” stage in which you are repeatedly exposed to situations that trigger a stress response such as racing heart, rapid breathing, increase in blood sugar and blood pressure and decrease in digestion (remember our good friend cortisol).
Stage 2: The “Rhum and Coke” stage. This is when things are starting to get out of control in your life. Stressor after stressor is thrown at you and your cortisol levels remain high. You may feel energized but not in a good way (nervous energy). You continue to take on more and more, feeling overwhelmed, overworked and unable to get anything done. Your mood may change – increased anxiousness, short temperedness. Your mind is always going, trying to figure out how to get through everything. Your sleep may be poor. Digestion decreased. Immune system weakened. For some, cortisol may increase hunger and bingeing on food. Poor coping skills may lead to use of alcohol or other substances.
Stage 3: The “Glass of Water” stage – the full out chronic stress stage. This is when the never-ending stress and our inability to cope with it has wreaked havoc with our personality and our health. You may experience depression, insomnia, burnout, heart disease, weight gain (or loss depending on your intake). Your judgement of situations,people and even your behaviour may be skewed. This is not where we want to end up.
Personally, I can tell you I have been through all of them at some point in my life. But the question is, when looking at your life, do you find yourself falling into any of these stages? Do you feel like things are getting out of control? Do you know how to effectively combat your stress in a healthy way? If any of this sounds familiar to you, then stay tuned for my next blog on “How to Combat Stress”
Catherine Rose-Loveless, RD, Sports Dietitian
Sports Dietitian with Evolved Sport and Nutrition
Complete Lifestyle Management