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Understanding the causes of stress

Everyone is familiar with stress. They experience stress in varying forms and degrees on a daily basis. It has become a common term in today's chaotic and rapidly changing world. It is a feeling that people often face when they are overwhelmed and are struggling to cope with the demands of certain situations and tasks.

In limited doses, stress can actually be valuable to us. Stressors can help a person to feel 'pumped' and face a situation even more confidently. This type of stress is good. It is only when the level of stress becomes uncontrollable it starts affecting our physical and mental being. Therefore, it becomes important to find productive and positive ways to manage their stress and its causes. 

Types of stress

Stress can be caused by any type of devastating, emotional or physical situation. It can range from the ringing of a phone to overflowing of the inbox to missing the deadline of an important project, to boss getting on nerves. These are all short-term causes of stress called acute stress. These factors are all short term and won't last longer than a day, causing positive stress in the mind of an individual. However, if these factors keep bugging you for a week or maybe a month, it can be long term, chronic stress. It is important to overcome the effects of this stress as it can be harmful to the health an individual.

Causes of stress

The situations and conditions that lead to stress are called stressors. Major stressors include issues like money problems, relationship conflicts, loss of a loved one, job issues, and other major life changes. Some of the minor stressors include daily commutes, rushed morning, and pending work at office. Some of the stressors can just be related to some specific phases of life such as aging, menopause, or teenage.  Whatever be the situation, try to cope with the problem and regain the balance of your life. Recognizing the various sources of stress is the initial step towards managing them. Here’s a detailed list of what causes stress

  • Personal Stressors
  1. Health: Getting diagnosed with a new disease, complications in current illness, or aging can often increase the stress levels in our body. Even if you're not suffering from the problem yourself but someone close to you is dealing with a disease or illness, your stress levels are going to heighten up for sure. According to the studies conducted, more than half of the caregivers often grumble about being stressed for the well-being of their family members.
  2. Money: Financial issues are the most common sources of stress. Bills, rent, and the inability to provide sufficiently for yourself or family can burden you with a huge amount of chronic stress. Financial stress emerges from the thought process of today's era which is all about what you have and what you can afford. The majority of the world's population reports money being the significant cause of stress at some point in their life. It can take months or even years to handle this stress.
  3. Relationships: Arguments with parents, spouses, or children can also shoot up your stress levels. Even when you're not directly involved in your household issues problems between the other members of the family can cause stress to you.
  4. Life changes: Loss of a loved one, sending a child off to university, moving houses, and changing jobs are some of the big changes in your life that can be stressful. Even happy changes like getting married, pregnancy, or retirement can also cause a significant amount of stress.
  5. Emotional problems: The inability to express your sentiments or to relate to someone can weigh you down with additional stress. Health disorders like anxiety and depression can add to the emotional tension. It is important to effectively manage the emotional stress for a healthy living.
  6. Beliefs: People have different ideologies when it comes to personal, political, or religious beliefs. Arguments about the same can challenge you to an extent where you might have to question your own beliefs. Major life occurrences that lead you to such a situation, especially when your beliefs differ from others, can also cause stress levels to rise adequately.
  7. Unrealistic expectations: You're destined to feel stressed if you'll want to do everything perfect and right all the time. it's important to let everything roll off your back every now and go with the flow.
  • Social Issues
  1. Environment: The surroundings you work in, your neighbourhood, the kind of city you dwell in along with other safety concerns often lead to chronic stress.
  2. Occupation: Pressure, job dissatisfaction, job insecurity, and conflicts from your workplace can cause a rise in stress levels of individuals.
  3. Discrimination: Facing discrimination in any aspect of your life is extremely stressful. You may experience discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Handling discrimination on everyday basis is a major cause of chronic stress in many people.
  • Traumatic Causes

A person suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if he has faced a traumatic event or a series of traumatic events in his life. The events can be abuse or a kidnapping, or a robbery, or a war or some other life-threatening situation. The stress from these events lasts for a prolonged period of time.

  • Other Issues
  1. Attitude: Your attitude towards a particular situation determines whether you'll be stressed about it or not. For example, if your car gets stolen and you are calm about it because your insurance company will pay for the new one you won’t feel the impact of stress. But if your car gets stolen and you become a worrywart thinking what if the thieves come back to steal more from my house stress will hit you with full force. The way you handle the situation determines the level of stress on your mind and its impact on your health.
  2. Fear and Uncertainty: When you regularly hear about the harmful concepts such as terrorist attacks, global warming, toxic chemicals, etc. on the news and radio, it causes you to feel tense. You tend to get stressed because you feel helpless about the control over those events. Anxiety about completing a project on time or about not having enough money to pay the rent etc. contribute to the everyday factors causing stress.
  3. Work: The amount of emotional support you get outside as well as inside your workplace determines the level of stress you'll have to handle in the future. The attitude of co-workers, the way your boss treats you, the burden of work, etc all contribute to the job or work stress in life. This stress also, indirectly, affects personal relationships along with the personal and mental health of a person to a huge extent.
  4. Personality Sources: Your personality traits and the available resources also act as major causes of stress in your life. A person who is more likely to discuss his problems with his friends is likely to suffer less from stress as compared to an introvert who tends to keep to himself. This often brings unnecessary strain to the people and also to others around them.
  5. Those with enough money and resources have people working the assigned tasks for them, their stress levels are much lesser to the ones who are struggling to make ends meet and save cash for a better future.
  6. Everyday life and busy schedule: The everyday inconveniences contribute to the day-to-day stressors in anyone's life. Incidents like misplaced keys, lost papers, running late, etc. are all everyday nuisances that cause high-stress levels in our life. Usually these incidents are minor setbacks but if they occur recurrently, they'll become the source of anxiety affecting the physical and psychological health of an individual.

Busy schedules are not a new occurrence in today's career-oriented lifestyle. This causes people to overlook health issues and other basic needs. It is important to say 'no' every now and then to get some time for yourself.

Why do some things make you feel stressed?

Everyone reacts to stress in a different manner. Each one of us has different tolerance level for pressure and anxiety. The amount of stress you feel in a situation depends on multiple factors like:

  • Your perception of the situation.
  • Your experience at handling a certain kind of pressure.
  • The amount of support you’re receiving about a particular task or condition.
  • The amount of emotional resilience you have in stressful situations.
  • The amount of pressure you have to handle simultaneously.

Impact of stress

When you're in a stressful condition, your nervous system springs into action releasing hormones to fight or repel a situation according to your past experiences. Stress can cause minor problems like headaches, fatigue, insomnia, lack of focus, irritability, and digestive issues. Whereas, it can also become the reason for a number of serious health conditions like high blood pressure, depression, heart attack, and acute skin problems

We all are aware of the widespread damage stress can cause to your life. It is important to know your limit and act smartly at the right time. Determining "how much is too much" varies from one person to another. Hold your stand and do not crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations.

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