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Long term exposure to stress takes the form of general adoption syndrome. It occurs in response to long term exposure to the causes of stress. This phenomenon is commonly visible, both in employers and employees of the corporate sector, where new challenges emerge on a daily basis. Projects have to be executed in time. Sales targets have to be met. Statistics have to be presented in board meetings. This results in continuous arousal of the body. When this arousal becomes chronic, stress related problems appear.
Biological Response to Long term Stress
Stress hormones that remain in an elevated state in the blood for long time can become toxic and affect the cells of the body. The level of fat also increases, causing cardiovascular problems. The immune system is emaciated and the body becomes prone to infectious diseases, including cancer. The moods go down steeply and physical and mental exhaustion takes over.
Another negative development results in the form of the brain getting sensitized. This leads to the change in the structure and function of the nervous system. The situation sometimes worsens to the extent that even small irritants may blow up into a dangerous stress and anger response. A continued state of arousal creates different breathing patterns. Muscles around the abdomen, chest, throat and jaw are affected. This results in rapid shallow breathing or hyperventilation which in turn changes the blood chemistry and makes the heart work harder. A vicious circle is created with the hyperventilation keeping the nervous system sensitized. The outcome is continued exhaustion, mental and physical health problems and loss of efficiency.
In business terms, this exhaustion is called ‘burnout’. When major decisions are taken by both the employer and the employees in such a state of exhaustion, the outcome may be financially damaging. The top brass of the company tends to lose their motivation to succeed. The stress arising out of work overload leads to inefficient prioritization and inconsistent valuation. These negative consequences make us excitable, anxious, jumpy and irritable, resulting in the loss of efficacy in work culture.