First and foremost, let’s get things straight. The stack of papers on your desk is not the source of your stress. The screaming toddler in the living room or the clean clothes that the dog just pulled out the door are not signs of stress. Stress isn’t the ringing phone that keeps you from getting to work on time.
Your reaction to these situations is called stress. Stressors, not stress, are what they are.
A stressor can either cause or not cause stress.
When looking for stress signs and symptoms, we must consider every stressor as a possible source of stress. Stressors do not have to generate stress, which is why I say “potential.” Different people will react to things in different ways, and it is the response, remember, that is the source of stress.
A stack of documents waiting to be filed, for example, could be a major source of stress for one secretary. She despises filing because she lacks organization. She never knows where to file a certain paper, so she procrastinates. The stack increases, her anxiety grows, and her guilt grows, but she is paralyzed by a lack of competence. Finally, she falls ill and has to miss work for a day. After a glance at the stack of documents, the substitute secretary gets to work joyfully. She has devised a filing system and is certain of where the papers should be filed. She quickly clears everything out and rewards herself with a 5-minute walk.
The stressor was the mountain of paperwork that needed to be filed. Both secretaries were in the same boat. One secretary became physically ill as a result of her anxiety and remorse. The other reacted with cheery assurance, and the task was completed successfully. The stressor was not the sole source of anxiety.
Stress Factors in Everyday Life
Stress is caused by a variety of factors that occur daily. They keep reappearing. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.
1. If you let him, your employer who never has a good word to say about you might be a source of worry. It all depends on whether you allow him to worry you or opt to ignore him.
2. A youngster who refuses to get up in time for school daily might be a source of daily stress for a parent who does not take control of the issue.
3. If you wish to use the phone and have no control over the circumstances, a family member who is often on the phone will become a source of tension.
4. Depending on how you react, your neighbor’s barking dog or even a singing bird on the windowsill can generate stress.
5. The food stain on your shirt from lunch may be a source of tension when you return to work – or you may have the emotional fortitude to ignore it.
Our days are replete with signals and symptoms, stressors to which we must decide whether or not to respond.
Causes of Stress on Occasional Occasions
In addition to the hundreds of potential regular sources of stress, each of us is confronted with sporadic stressors. They may appear to be larger and more difficult to control.
Each of these three factors has the potential to be stressful.
1. You’re going to be relocating. Sort, pack, and clean are all things you must do. After that, you’ll have to relocate. Your friends and acquaintances are left behind. You leave your previous life in a variety of ways. You may either prepare ahead of time to deal with the emotional changes that come with relocating, or you can be surprised by how stressful it can be.
2. Your position is being restructured. There’s new, more difficult work to be done, and there’s not a lot of time to accomplish it. Unless you manage your job and take charge, this potential source of stress could make you physically unwell.
3. When you or your spouse loses a job, your family’s funds are abruptly slashed. Could this be a source of anxiety? It all depends on whether you quickly start looking for new work and use your free time to catch up on household tasks.
Each potential source of stress can either overwhelm or empower an individual to take on the challenge and turn things around.
Stress Factors That Can Alter Your Life
Because such shifts upset our very roots, a stressor in this category is considerably more likely to become a source of stress. Examine these scenarios to see whether there is a source of stress that you are attempting to address.
1. A family member’s serious illness or injury can rapidly become a source of stress. We have a hard time responding correctly to this type of stressor. We lack the emotional and mental resilience we require.
2. Divorce or separation from a spouse due to marital troubles or even your career might be stressful. As your body adjusts to the separation, you may experience emotional stress.
3. Divorce is an all-too-common source of stress, and it’s tough to deal with healthily.
4. Those who are overly reliant on money will be stressed by a significant loss of income. Credit problems belong to the same category.
Finally, the death of a child or spouse is a stressor that will nearly always result in stress.
What Is the Root Cause of Stress?
Our inner response to losing control of our lives is the ultimate underlying source of stress. It is normal for humans to want to have complete control over their lives at all times. We want to be the captains of our ships and have control over what happens to us. Stressors put that control in jeopardy, so we prepare to fight – or run – whatever is attempting to take it away. Our bodies’ “fight-or-flight” response is called stress.
If all of the signs and symptoms of stress were grouped and labelled with a single term, it would be “reaction to the loss of control.”