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Chronic Stress - How fried is YOUR Nervous System?!

Updated: Jun 27

Do you feel in this fast-paced world we live in; stress has become an unwelcome companion? It seems to come from every angle, whether it is from deadlines at work to personal responsibilities, your nervous system often bears the brunt of your hectic lifestyle. Understanding how stress affects your nervous system and subsequently impacts your mental wellbeing is crucial for fostering a healthier, more balanced life.

People rushing about
Life appears to becoming busier and busier

Your nervous system is a complex network that regulates various bodily functions and responses. It consists of two main components: the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which connects the CNS to the rest of the body. Together, they coordinate your thoughts, actions, and responses to the environment.

When you encounter stress, whether it's physical, emotional, or psychological, your body's natural response is to trigger the "fight or flight" mechanism. This response is essential for survival in threatening situations, as it prepares you to either confront the danger or flee from it. Have you noticed a change? In today's world, where many stressors are chronic and ongoing, this response can become maladaptive, leading to a state of chronic stress.

Woman suffering from stress
Chronic Stress is not a badge of honour - this needs to change for your health!

Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your nervous system in several ways. One of the primary culprits is the over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is responsible for the "fight or flight" response. When stress persists over extended periods, the SNS remains in a constant state of arousal, flooding the body with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

This continuous activation can lead to a phenomenon often referred to as "nervous system burnout" or "fried nervous system”.

The consequences of a fried nervous system extend beyond mere physiological discomfort. It can significantly impact your mental wellbeing.

Here's how:

1.     Anxiety and Depression

Prolonged stress alters the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine, which are closely associated with mood regulation. As a result, individuals may experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, ranging from persistent worry and irritability to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Man with anxiety
Have there been changes to your mood and behaviour?

2.     Impaired Cognitive Function

Chronic stress impairs cognitive function, making it difficult to concentrate, remember information, and make decisions. This cognitive fog can further exacerbate feelings of frustration and overwhelm, perpetuating a cycle of stress and mental fatigue.

Woman with brain fog
You may find brain fog or forgetfulness are becoming a problem?

3.     Sleep Disturbances

The overactivation of the SNS disrupts the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it challenging to fall asleep and stay asleep. Poor sleep quality not only exacerbates feelings of fatigue and exhaustion, but also undermines the body's ability to recover and regenerate, further exacerbating stress and mental health issues.

Woman appears tired
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting good sleep?

4.     Physical Symptoms

Chronic stress can manifest in a variety of physical symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, digestive problems, and cardiovascular issues. These physical manifestations not only contribute to discomfort and distress but also serve as constant reminders of the toll that stress is taking on the body and mind.

Digestive problems
It's not just the mental health signs, physical signs will begin to appear as well

5.     Social Withdrawal and Isolation

Coping with chronic stress can be isolating, as individuals may withdraw from social interactions and activities they once enjoyed. This withdrawal can further exacerbate feelings of loneliness, alienation, and disconnection, amplifying the negative impact on mental wellbeing.

Social Isolation
Look for signs - are you withdrawing from others?

Addressing stress-induced nervous system dysfunction and promoting mental wellbeing requires a holistic approach that encompasses various strategies and interventions.

Here are some effective strategies to consider managing chronic stress:

1.     Stress Management Techniques

Learning and practicing stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation can help regulate the body's stress response and promote relaxation and resilience.

2.     Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, yoga, or tai chi, not only promotes physical health but also helps alleviate stress, improve mood, and boost overall wellbeing. It can be any physical activity. Think about what you love, maybe it's dancing, swimming or bike riding?

Bike riding in the outdoors
Choose your activity - Do something you love

3.     Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Prioritising healthy lifestyle choices, including a balanced diet, adequate sleep, hydration, and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, can support optimal nervous system function and enhance resilience to stress. Even the smallest of changes, can work towards making a difference.

healthy foods
Take a good look at what foods you are eating

4.     Social Support Networks

Cultivating strong social support networks through meaningful relationships, friendships, and community involvement can provide emotional validation, encouragement, and a sense of belonging, buffering against the negative effects of stress. We all need to feel connected. Maintaining human connection is very important for your wellbeing.

Friends goofing around
Staying connected is incredibly important for your well-being

5.     Seeking Professional Help

Recognising when stress becomes overwhelming and seeking support from mental health professionals can provide valuable tools, insights, and coping strategies for navigating challenging circumstances and promoting mental wellbeing. Our tip? - Seek help early.

At F.A.S.T. First Aid, we understand how chronic stress fries the nervous system and impacts mental wellbeing. We understand how important it is to maintain your wellbeing to foster a healthier, more balanced life.

Prioritising your mental wellbeing is not a luxury, but a necessity in today’s world. We encourage you to take steps to nurture and protect your nervous system to bring greater resilience, vitality, and joy into your life.

Self-care is not selfish.

SOS Self Care Strategy book
Take steps to look after YOU!

Chronic stress is not a badge of honour, it will rob you of your wellbeing.

Isn’t it time you took the steps to manage stress, promote resilience and prioritised your self-care so you can achieve a greater sense of calm and clarity?

It’s time to enhance your overall quality of life and wellbeing.

Let us help you get there.

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