5 Ways to Manage Chronic Stress

Shopify API January 20, 2022 No Comments
Manage your stress with these five techniques to reduce the effect of long-term exposure to the stress hormone cortisol.
Meatless Mondays

Jan 2022. This article is independently written by Shelby Golding. All opinions given are hers. Shelby has been certified as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist since 2007. In 2008, she found her passion for writing about these topics and hasn't looked back.

Meatless Mondays

With every passing year, our lives seem to increase in complexity. From managing bills, finding ways to pay for college, maintaining our health, and navigating a complicated political landscape, everyone feels a little stressed out once and while. But the difference between feeling stress and suffering from chronic stress are distinct. 

You can feel stressed when you have a deadline coming up, but once you submit your work, the stress usually goes away. Chronic stress is with you all day, every day, and long-term stress can really take its toll on your health.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, has many negative effects on the body, all of which are made worse when we are exposed to them in the long term. For example, when cortisol stays in your system, you may have trouble sleeping, issues with your hormones, a compromised immune system, and an inability to lose weight. 

If you are looking to manage chronic stress, keep reading for a few techniques to combat cortisol and calm you down. 

5 Ways to Manage Chronic Stress

By focusing on your sleep, asking for support, employing meditation or relaxation techniques, and exercising, you should be able to reduce the symptoms of chronic stress and allow your body to get the rest it needs.

1. Focus on Sleep

Stress is our body's survival mechanism, so it makes sense if we feel like we are being threatened, we’ll have a hard time sleeping. Chronic stress makes it hard for us to fall asleep, triggers insomnia, wakes us up multiple times throughout the night, and causes stress-related nightmares. 

A few nights without sleep won't do us much harm, but a week or a month without sleep has profound health implications. A week without sleep can cause an increase in anxiety, moodiness, drowsiness, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, and decreased performance. A month without sleep can increase your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Try a few of these tricks to improve your sleep.

  • Set a regular bedtime and stick to it. 
  • Do not eat three hours before bed.
  • Turn off your phone an hour and a half before you turn off the lights.
  • Take a break from drinking coffee and alcohol.
  • Use a sleep supplement like magnesium which regulates sleep and helps you relax.
  • Listen to a nighttime calming meditation to slow restless thoughts.

To improve your sleep, you need to focus on routine. However, a combination of the techniques above should help you get your sleep back on track!

2. Ask for Support

Sometimes stress sends us into a spiral. Insomnia causes stress, and increased stress causes more insomnia. Our problems keep stacking up - a layoff, an overdue bill, a sick child, an unexpected death- and suddenly, we are drowning with no life raft to keep our heads above water. 

According to a 2021 survey, one in five Americans went to a therapist to help with pandemic-related stress. If you feel like you are in a chronic stress-related spiral, you should consider asking for support. Support does not have to be a therapist. However, therapists are the most qualified people to deal with stress related to emotional trauma and mental health problems. 

You could simply reach out to a friend or family member. Ideally, confide in someone that you trust who can look at your problems from an outside perspective. If you’ve been stressed for a long time, you might be having a hard time identifying where that stress began and how to address it. 

Asking for support - whether it's a therapist or someone close to you - is a good place to start healing your stress.

3. Meditation

Meditation is a proven stress-relief technique. In essence, meditation changes your brain’s response to stress, lowering the concentration of stress hormones in your body and reducing the effects of stress throughout the day. During meditation, the practitioner focuses on being present in the moment. You pull yourself outside of your stream of consciousness and accept any thoughts or feelings as they arise.

A few popular types of meditation include:

  • Loving-kindness 
  • Mindfulness 
  • Chakra 
  • Guided 
  • Mantra 

The reason meditation works so well is because it shifts the body from the sympathetic "fight or flight" system into the parasympathetic "rest and digest" system. As a result, after meditation, you will generally find that you are less responsive to emotional triggers, breathing deeper and slower, and generally more relaxed. All of these are signs that you have entered the parasympathetic nervous system.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques focus on breathing while doing pleasant activities. For example, you use a repeated word or suggestion to relax and release tension in the body. Unlike meditation, the intention of relaxation techniques is not to be present but simply to relax. However, a meditation practice can certainly enhance your experience with relaxation techniques.
What works for one person may not work for someone else. You may already have an idea of what type of relaxation is best suited to you, but in case you need help, here are a few common relaxation techniques.

  • Autogenic training
  • Biofeedback
  • EFT tapping
  • Deep breathing
  • Guided imagery
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Self-hypnosis
  • Listening to music
  • Painting

Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation have been proven to reduce stress-hormone activity, slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, and lessen muscle tension and pain.

The point of these techniques is to find some relief from the stress by pushing your body out of the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic nervous system. If you are suffering from chronic stress, you may need to implement a regular relaxation practice to see results. 


The association between exercise and stress relief is a common one. Your body makes endorphins when you are stressed or in pain, but also during exercise, stress, and a good meal. 

Elle Woods from Legally Blonde said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." The reason is that endorphins release a feeling of positivity, a natural form of morphine. Almost any type of physical movement will release endorphins, so you do not need to be in shape to get stress relief from exercise.

Chronic Stress

If you suffer from either acute or chronic stress, chances are you would benefit from learning how to manage your stress better. In 2017, 8 in 10 Americans said they encountered stress in their daily lives. Unfortunately, the United States is the most stressed-out nation in the world, and the uncertainty of the pandemic has only made it worse. Use these five techniques to help your body and mind recover from the effects of chronic stress.

As you begin to hopefully lower your stress levels, don’t neglect pain management. The Kailo pain patch can help you relax and destress when applied near the site of pain anywhere on your body. You can wear it all day, even when you’re exercising, so you’re never unsupported on your journey. 


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