Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger – whether it’s real or imagined – the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response.
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life – giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.
But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
Causes of Stress
A perceived threat will lead a person to feel stressed. This can include physical threats, social threats, financial threat, and so on. In particular it will be worse when the person feels they have no response that can reduce the threat, as this affects the need for a sense of control. Generally speaking, any threat to needs is likely to lead to stress being experienced.
Threat can lead to fear, which again leads to stress. Fear leads to imagined outcomes, which are the real source of stress.
When we are not certain, we are unable to predict, and hence feel we are not in control, and hence may feel fear or feel threatened by that which is causing the uncertainty.
- Cognitive dissonance
When there is a gap between what we do and what we think, then we experience cognitive dissonance, which is felt as stress. Thus, if I think I am a nice person then do something that hurts someone else, I will experience dissonance and stress. Dissonance also occurs when we cannot meet our commitments. We believe we are honest and committed, but when circumstances prevent us from meeting our promises we are faced with the possibility of being perceived as dishonest or incapable (ie. a social threat).
- Financial Causes
This is the number one source of stress these days. You and your family are not be able to do what you want to due to lack of money. Debts are piling up. Credit Card payments, pending mortgage installments, rising costs of education, mounting expenditure on health concerns. Financial matters top the list of stressors.
- Workplace Stress
Stress at workplace is another of the main causes of stress. You may be worried about your next promotion. You might be facing the negative or bullying behavior of your boss. You might not be reaching your well-deserved career goals; you might be worried due to office politics. You might be stressed about some major change that is taking place in the organization, or, you might be under stress because of the prospect of losing your job.
- Personal Relationships
Studies of children, attitude of relatives, arguments with spouse or children, change of place due to requirements of your job, illness of a family member, moving in of parents or moving out of elder children are all main causes of stress.
Heart diseases, hypertension, problems with eye sight and sugar afflict many people becoming a major cause of life stress for them. Maintaining good health, reducing weight, increasing weight, being able to lead a healthy life-style: all of these and a few more are the main causes of stress due to health concerns.
Besides the ones that I have mentioned above there are those annoyances and irritations that you encounter in your daily lives which go on to become biggest sources of stress for you. Problems in commuting to workplace, balance of work and family life, PTMs at children’s schools, workload, visit to doctor, not enough sleep, no time to relax, no time to discuss some nagging problems – who is not aware of these stresses and strains of our lives? You fight with them every day.
These main causes of stress are taking their toll on today’s urban man in the shape of stress related diseases that we mentioned at the top.
But, do you let all of these get on your nerve, getting you all stressed up and making you prone to all the stress-related diseases? – Or have you found ways to live a stress-free and full life despite many problems that beset you?
Develop resilience and never let stress get you down. It can be learnt. But, yes, you have to try.
To break yourself out of the daily stresses, start by practicing stress releasing exercises, and you will be on your way to freedom from the main causes of stress afflicting our present day lifestyle.