Chronic stress is a condition of perpetual long-term physiological arousal, which happens when one experiences so many stressors during each day (like work stress) that the body hardly has a chance to recover from one stressful situation to the next.
This is typical in our modern lifestyles where work related stress from long working days in high pressure jobs is followed by busy traffic jams on the journey home.
In this situation the body is in a continual state of perceived threat, with the fight or flight response triggered much more often than is healthy.
This wears the body down and can cause damage to our immune system response, and can also lead to nervous exhaustion.
Work Related Stress
Relentless, chronic stress is a condition which can cause serious health problems. Work related stress in a job you hate, poverty, a dysfunctional family, living in a dangerous neighborhood can all grind you down with chronic stress week after week, year after year.
A traumatic childhood can sometimes condition a personality to create a destructive approach to life that causes chronic stress.
The most dangerous thing about chronic long-term stress is that it just becomes background noise that you get used to, learning to tolerate any work related stress, and all the time your health is gradually worsening as a result.
Research on Chronic Stress in the Workplace
In a UK study of 10,000 civil servants a link was found a link between work stress and metabolic syndrome, which involves obesity and high blood pressure.
The lead researcher stated, “Employees with chronic work stress have more than double the odds of the syndrome than those without work stress, after other risk factors are taken into account.”
So, the more work stress people endure, the more likely they were to suffer from metabolic syndrome. Reasons for this are most likely because chronic work related stress affects the nervous system in many ways and also reduces the biological resilience of the body.
Other research has previously shown that the effects of stress in the work place can increase the likelihood of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.