Stress is a part of life. It serves certain purposes. For instance, it may motivate you for getting a promotion in job, at work or reach your goal as running the last meter of your marathon. Nevertheless, stress is never good for your mental health, so you need to control it to get rid of decreased health conditions. Over a half of American people say that they fight with their loved ones and friends because of stress and anxiety. Besides, over 70% among them say that they experience real emotional and physical symptoms from stress.
Causes Of Stress And How To Manage It Effectively
There are a lot of things can cause your stress. You can feel stressed when you are going to start a test, run a race, have an interview and so on. These kinds of stress are quite normal. However, some people suffer from long-term stress (it’s also called chronic stress) that may be caused by stressful events and situations lasting for a long time, such as conflicts in the family or problems at work. Over time, your chronic stress may lead to more severe problems. Below are the most common causes of stress:
I. Causes Of Stress
1. General Causes
In the most common causes of stress, threat can lead you to feel stressed. It includes financial threat, physical threats, and social threats and so on. Particularly, it can be worse when you feel you have no response to reduce your threat, since this can affect a need for your ability of control.
In general, any threat to your need can lead to your stress.
b. Fear & Uncertainty
Fear can be linked to threat. Fear can lead to imagined outcomes that are real sources of stress.
When you aren’t certain, you are not able to predict so you lose your control and feel threatened or fear. For instance, when you hear about global warming, toxic chemicals or terrorist attacks on the news, they can make you stressed, as you feel like as if you lose your control over these events. Fears and uncertainty can also hit close to your mind. For instance, you get worried that you will not finish your work and meet the deadline. In another case, you will not have enough money for paying your bills, so you get stressed, for instance.
c. Major Changes
Next to common causes of stress, major changes in your life may be stressful to you, even happy events such as your wedding. More other unpleasant changes, such as a major financial setback, a death in your family or your divorce can be also significant causes of your stress.
The stress level differs based on the way you respond to these situations and your personality. Some let negative things roll off their backs. For them, life stresses and stresses at work are simply minor bumps in their roads. Other people just worry themselves sick literally.
d. Cognitive Dissonance
As there is a big gap between what you think and what you do, then you experience cognitive dissonance that is felt as a type of stress. Hence, if you think you are a nice person, then you do things hurting someone, you will experience stress and dissonance.
Besides, dissonance can occur when you can’t meet your commitments. You believe you are committed and honest, yet when some circumstances prevent you from meeting your promises, you face the fact of being perceived as incapable or dishonest (a social threat).
The stress sometimes comes from the inside rather than the outside. It’s just the way you stress yourself out by getting worry about stuff. All these factors may lead to your stress.
Moreover, your perceptions and attitudes also related to your stress formation. In other words, your perceptions and attitudes are the ways you view a particular situation and view the world. They can determine of it can cause your stress. For instance, when your TV is stolen, if you have an attitude that it’s no problem, your insurance company absolutely will pay you a new one, you will get rid of stress. In another case, if you keep an attitude that you will never get your TV back, and the thieves will visit your home the next time, you definitely will get more stress.
In addition, among causes of stress, your unrealistic expectations may make you never have peace in mind. As you know, no one is really perfect. So, you should learn to accept the truth and view things with positive attitudes.
2. Life Causes
Next to main causes of stress, they are troubles in life. They may be:
- Health: pregnancy, illness or injury
- Death: of a family member, your spouse or a friend
- Crime: mugging, sexual molestation, pick-pocketed or burglary
- Family change: divorce, marriage, separation or new baby
- Self-abuse: self-harm, drug abuse or alcoholism
- Sexual problems: with partner or getting partner
- Physical changes: new work hours or lack of sleep
- Argument: with family, spouse, friends, boss or co-workers
- New location: moving house or vacation
- Environment change: in job, school, house, jail or town
- Money: owing it, lack of it or investing it
- Responsibility increase: new job or new dependent
- Emotional problems: depression, anger, anxiety, grief, low self-esteem or guilt
- Traumatic events: a natural disaster, rape, theft, violence against your loved ones or you
3. Stress At Work
In the modern life, people have to deal with a lot of stresses at work. The following are 6 key stress factors related to pressure at work:
- The demands of job
- The support you receive from your superiors and colleagues
- The control you have over the way do your work
- Your relationships with other colleagues
- How clear you can understand your responsibilities and roles at work
- The workplace changes
Plus, there are other stress indicators you may have at work such as:
- Your sickness absence
- Your poor communication and bad relationship between your teams
- High staff turnover
- Issues related to contribution & value
- The lack of feedback
- Issues related to technological change
- Some dissatisfactions related to non-monetary benefits
- The lack of clarity of your responsibilities and roles
- Working throughout long hours
- One-off incidents
- Mundane & boring work
- Uncomfortable workplace
- Being not happy in the job
- Lack of the professional training
- Having too much responsibility or a heavy workload
- Having, unclear expectations or poor management of the work
- Facing harassment or discrimination at work, particularly if the company is not supportive
- Working under too dangerous conditions
- Giving speeches in public or front of colleagues
- Being insecure about the risk of termination or your chance for advancement
II. Effects Of Stress On You
When you are stressed, your body will launch physical responses. The nervous system will spring into action for releasing certain hormones, which prepare you to either take off or fight. It is called “flight or fight” response. This is a reason why when you are stressful, you can notice your faster heartbeat, your faster breathing, your tensed muscles and your excess sweating. This type of stress is just temporary or short-term and your body can recover from it quickly.
However, if your stress stays activated for a long time, you may develop chronic stress that can lead to serious health problems. The rush of stress hormones may put a lot of tear on the body causing it age quickly and making it prone to illness.
If you have been stressed out, you may notice the following physical affects:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty sleeping
When your stress becomes serious and it isn’t addressed properly, it may lead to more serious health problems, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Heart disease and heart attack
- Upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea and cramps
- Heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers
- Skin problems like psoriasis, acne and eczema
- Weight loss or gain
- Fertility problems
- Decreased sex drive
- Arthritis and asthma
The body does not distinguish between psychological and physical threats. When you get stressed over an argument with your partner, a busy schedule, a mountain of bills or a traffic jam, your body just reacts as strongly as when you did face a “life-or-death” situation. If you feel more worries and responsibilities, your instant stress response can be “on” all the time. The more the stress system of the body is activated, the more difficult it can shut off.
A long exposure to stressful situations can lead to severe health problems. For instance, chronic stress can disrupt every system in the body. It raises your blood pressure, increases higher risk of heart stroke, heart attack, suppresses your immune system, contributes to your infertility, speeds up your aging process and so on. Moreover, chronic stress even rewires your brain, leaves you vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
III. Signs & Symptoms Of Chronic Stress
The following are the most common warning symptoms and signs of chronic stress. The more symptoms and signs you notice, the more you have stress overload.
1. Cognitive Symptoms Of Chronic Stress
- Memory problems
- Constant worrying
- Poor judgment
- Racing or anxious thoughts
- Seeing just negative things
2. Emotional Symptoms Of Chronic Stress
- Short temper or irritability
- Inability to relax or agitation
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Isolation or sense of loneliness
3. Physical Symptoms Of Chronic Stress
- Aches & pains
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Nausea and dizziness
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Worse sex drive
- Frequent colds
4. Behavioral Symptoms Of Chronic Stress
- Eating less or more
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Isolating yourself from other people
- Neglecting responsibilities or procrastinating
- Using cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to relax
- Nervous habits such as pacing or nail biting
Remember that these symptoms and signs stress can be caused by other medical and psychological problems. If you experience any of these warning symptoms of chronic stress, it is necessary for you to meet a doctor for an evaluation. Your health provider will help you know whether your symptoms and signs are stress-related or not.
IV. Learn To Manage Stress
Managing stress can make your life different. Many scientific studies showed that those with heart disease and high blood pressure lived longer when they underwent effective stress management techniques and programs.
Generally, managing stress is about taking charge, including taking charge of the thoughts, emotions, schedule, environment and the manner you solve your problems. Stress management techniques involve changing stressful situations by changing your thoughts and reactions for rest, safeness and relaxation.
While unchecked and untreated stresses are undeniably damaging and harmful, you should take care of your self management to control your stress. Unfortunately, people often cope with their stress in some ways that just compound their problems. For instance, you might get drunk because you drank too much after a stressful day. On the other hand, you may like to fill up on food, watch TV for hours, lash out at others to relieve stress or use pills to relax. Actually, these are not healthy ways to deal with stress. Instead, you should improve your thoughts, actions and apply some effective ways as follows.
1. Remember The 4 As: Avoid – Alter – Adapt – Accept
a. Avoid Unnecessary Stress
In reality, unnecessary stress can be avoided. So, learn to say no with stress. Distinguish between “musts” and “shoulds” on a to-do list. Strear clear of situations and people that can stress you out and thereby you can eliminate a lot of daily stressors.
b. Alter The Situation
In case, you cannot avoid a certain stressful situation, learn to alter your stress. Be assertive and handle your problems straight. Don’t bottle up bad feelings and stop making your severe stress. In addition, respectfully let people know about your real concerns. On the other hand, be willing to compromise, and meet other people halfway on your issue.
c. Adapt To The Stressor
If you cannot change your stressors, it’s time for you to change yourself. Reframe your problems and focus on positive things in life. If your task at work makes you feel stressed, start by focusing on aspects of your job that you really enjoy. Furthermore, look at a big point of view: is this really worth for you getting upset about? Finally, you will challenge your stressor successfully!
d. Accept Things You Can’t Change
There are a lot of stressors that you cannot eliminate them. So, learn to accept them to have peace. If not, it’s just the way you are getting more stress. Look for the good side of any situation, event a stressful circumstance can be a good chance for you to grow more mature in thinking. Keep in mind that you have to learn a lot of things in life. Although you tried but you didn’t success, consider your mistakes, your new lessons and at last you will be happy to continue your life. So accept and move on.
In addition, remember that you are not perfect, but you are awesome. Encourage yourself to think positive, live well and enjoy your life completely.
2. Practice Relax Techniques
There are a lot of relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing technique, yoga exercises that activate the relaxation response in the body and help you eliminate stress for long. Keep reading the next tips on causes of stress and how to manage it to find more stress relieving methods.
3. Exercise Regularly
Next to ways to control your stress and anxiety, improve your physical health. In fact, physical activities play an important role in improving and preventing negative effects of stress. It’s recommended exercising at least 3 times a week. There are various exercise programs for you to follow for your better health such as walking, aerobic exercise, biking, swimming, skiing, an a lot more. Pick up one and do it regularly for being free from stress everyday!
4. Eat Healthy
When it comes to causes of stress and how to manage it, your nutrition and dieting can contribute to your chronic stress. As you know, there is a connection between your mind and body, your mental health and physical health. When you exercise regularly, this is a way you enhance your physical health. Eating is also a part of physical health improvement. So, nourish your body with healthy foods to balance your physical health and mental health. When you are healthy, you will be able to combat disease and illness that are main causes of stress, as we mentioned to it in the first part of the article.
Choose right foods to consume. Don’t skip your breakfast. Reduce sugar intake. Cut down on nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, fast food, for instance.
5. Have Quality Sleep
Don’t you know that one of causes of stress is related to sleep? It’s obvious that you have to sleep to restore your body functions and energy. Even machines need to take rest, hence, you have to pay attention to your sleep. By having quality sleep, you will get rid of tiredness, fatigue, exhaustion. As a result, you will be more energetic, positive and excited at work and in life.
Though you have a temporary stress, you can fight it off fast because you are energetic enough.
Especially, try to improve your night’s sleep as this is the best time to restore your mind and body. If you are stress, you may have more nightmares. In contrast, if you are stress free, you will get rid of nightmares or you will have sweet dream, instead.
6. Engage Your Senses
Yes! Focus on yourself by using your sense to taste, touch, hear, smell and see through movements. By smelling a scent, viewing a photo, listening to a piece of music, hugging your pet, tasting food, you can relax yourself quickly. By doing these things, you can get rid of distractions around you. You will forget noise, pain, negative thoughts, the past, and other disturbing things around you. Also, you will have peace and feel relax the whole body and your mind. Try practicing this stress management daily in your private space or in any place, you enjoy.
7. Aware Of Your Emotions
As we discussed on the first part, emotional problems such as grief, anxiety, angle, depression, low self-esteem and guilt can make you be stressed. In other words, nothing contributes to stress more than emotional disconnection. Understand the affects of emotions on your thoughts as well as actions to manage your stress well. Life of course is like a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs. Once you can be aware of your own emotions and the reality in life, you will be able to get over struggles and enjoy your life with happiness.
8. Get Rid Of Anxiety & Change Your Lifestyle
Anxiety and stress are very close relatives. By controlling your anxiety, low confidence, fear and panic attack, you will be able to run your life without stress. Below are simple but effective lifestyle changes that can help alleviate causes of stress and anxiety.
- Keeping a diary to write down your feelings
- Limiting alcohol & caffeine consumption
- Eating a balanced diet
- Talking to your friends
- Getting enough sleep & regular exercise
- Scheduling your spare time for hobbies
- Practicing deep breathing
- Meeting your doctor regularly
I’ve shown you the full writing of common causes of stress and how to manage it effectively. For any comment on it, leave it at the end of the post. Thanks and see you in the next writings.