Sources of Stress, The Main Causes of Stress

Sources of stress can differ greatly in their effects on an individual from one person to another. The main causes of stress are outlined here to give general guidance on the matter.

Survival Stress

In a physically or emotionally threatening situation, your body adapts to help you react more effectively to meet the threat. This is achieved mainly by the release of adrenaline a ‘fight or flight’ hormone. Adrenaline mobilizes sugars, giving your body access to more strength, energy and stamina. This helps you to fight harder or run faster. It reduces blood supply to your skin to minimize bleeding if you’re hurt. These sources of stress may induce nausea or diarrhea to eliminate excess weight that might otherwise slow you down.

When speed and physical strength for survival are critical, this primal adrenaline stress is beneficial and can improve your performance. However where calm thought or precise motor skills are necessary, it’s important to control or eliminate these adrenaline sources of stress with some form of stress management. Prolonged exposure to adrenaline can also damage your health. Stress management techniques can help control extreme adrenal responses.

Internally Generated Stress – Anxiety

Stress that you cause for yourself. This can occur from anxious worrying about events beyond your control, from a tense and hurried approach to life, from relationship problems caused by your own behavior, etc. This is where good stress management techniques will be most useful.

Other aspects of personality can become sources of stress for yourself. For example, perfectionism where you set extremely ambitious goals for yourself and impatience with others who don’t match your own high standards. Stress management can help alleviate the detrimental effects of such personality traits.

Environmental Stress

Sources of environmental stress can come from crowding and invasion of personal space, noise, dirty conditions, pollution and so on. Most people who smoke feel relaxed after a cigarette. But the chemical stress from smoking your body will suffer is severe! Most people who’ve stopped smoking feel much more relaxed generally, after the initial ‘giving up’ period is finished. Stress management tip : Quit Smoking!

Nutritional and Chemical Stress

Your food may contribute to your sources of stress. For example, caffeine raises levels of ‘stress hormones’, makes it more difficult to sleep, and can make you more irritable. Take the stress management tip of reducing caffeine intake. Many people report a big reduction in feelings of stress after cutting out coffee, although you may feel pretty rough when your body craves the missing caffeine. A gradual cutting down on coffee may be the most effective approach to managing stress here.

Bursts of sugar from sweets make you feel more energetic in the short term. But your body will react to stabilize abnormally high sugar levels by releasing too much insulin. This causes a serious energy dip shortly after the sugar high. Too much salt raises your blood pressure and puts your body under chemical stress. The best stress management tip here would be to simply reduce your intake of refined sugar and salt in your diet.

You will suffer from nutritional stress if you eat an unbalanced or unhealthy diet. Dietary deficiency or excess may cause discomfort and lead to illness. The effects of malnourishment can be easily rectified by adopting a healthy diet and taking quality vitamin and mineral supplements. Being overweight is a significant biological source of stress on your body, and also emotional stress as your self-esteem declines. Losing weight is one of the most effective stress management techniques you can engage in.

Lifestyle and Sources of Stress in the Workplace

These may include;

  • Too much or too little work.
  • Time pressures and deadlines.
  • Responsibility for people, budgets or equipment.
  • Frustration and boredom with current role.
  • Demands from clients.
  • Financial or relationship problems.
  • Family changes eg. birth, death, marriage or divorce.

Just as with internally generated stress, effective stress management techniques can make a big difference to how easily you cope with sources of stress in the workplace.

Fatigue and Overwork as Sources of Stress

Here stress builds up over a long period where you regularly try to achieve too much in too little time, or where you’re not using effective time management strategies. A practical, sensible approach to managing sources of stress will improve matters for you here.

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