What Are The Main Causes Of Stress?

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Published on November 18th, 2021

What Are The Main Causes Of Stress?

Stress is uncomfortable, but we all feel it sometimes. When understood and handled properly, some stress can be healthy. When stress becomes unhealthy it can be difficult to find the way back to a reasonable and manageable amount of stress.

Stress can be caused by different reasons. Each person handles stress differently and is more sensitive to certain kinds of stress than others. To learn how to manage your stress, it is important to understand your source of stress. Understanding what causes stress can be helpful when learning how to manage it in a healthy way. Knowing the causes of stress can help you develop a plan to know your triggers and how to handle stressful feelings in the moment. The following are major causes for stress:

Pressure

Being under pressure is stressful. Feeling pressure from yourself or others can feel like a weight on your shoulders. Whether it is pressure to perform, to keep up, or to meet your expectations or the expectations of others around you, the weight can cause a great deal of stress.

A great method of minimizing pressure on yourself is to ensure that you have healthy boundaries with yourself and others. Having healthy boundaries ensures that people have realistic expectations of you and know your limits. Healthy boundaries also help you to understand yourself better, and understand the point in which your personal dialog is being unfair or hurtful. Knowing how to set boundaries promotes self-advocation, which can boost self-esteem. This reduces the tendency to turn the stress inward and beat yourself up for not meeting expectations and allows you to be imperfect while making progress.

Self-Doubt

When we are doubting ourselves, we are focusing on what we lack. When we focus on what we lack, we feel like we are not capable of handling the challenges in front of us. This cycle of self-doubt can cause or worsen stress when confronted by a challenge. When we are thinking “I don’t think I can” we are focusing on the negative, and assuming that we are set up for failure. This thought process of self-doubt causes stress to build as it holds us back from overcoming our anxieties and allowing the things we are good at to boost confidence and self-esteem.

When you are struggling with self-doubt, consider focusing on your strengths. Think about how your strengths can contribute to your ability to overcome your self-doubt and enable you to face the challenge even though you are apprehensive or fearful.

Overwhelming Responsibilities

We all take on more than we can handle sometimes, so it is normal for us to feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities. Being overwhelmed with responsibilities is a major cause of stress. When we are doing so much that we cannot take care of our mental health and wellness, we lose track of what we need and our responsibilities to ourselves. It is important to have realistic expectations about what you can handle when taking on responsibilities.

People may take on too many responsibilities for different reasons. Sometimes, people have trouble saying ‘no’ or setting personal boundaries. Sometimes people do not realize who much time and energy are needed to take on a certain task. Regardless of the reason why you are feeling overwhelmed, you can learn how to manage this kind of stress by slowing down, setting a plan, and learning about what you can realistically handle. It is also okay to ask for help from others. We all get overwhelmed sometimes, so knowing how and when to ask for help and to say no is important when learning how to manage stress.

Unexpected Change

Change is challenging. Whether the change is for the best or the worst, it causes stress that can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. Because of how stressful it can be, people often try to avoid or resist change, which can cause even more stress than before. An alternative to trying to cope with the stress that comes with change by resisting or avoiding the stress is to face the change head-on.

To manage stress caused by unexpected change, find a way to create a balance between the things that have changed and the things that have stayed the same. It can also be helpful to identify how you influence the change. You can do this by identifying the parts of the change that are within your control and the parts that are not in your control. Find your sense of authority in the change and the potential good that can come from the change.

Feeling Helpless

Feeling helpless can be a major source of stress for people. Whether the helpless feelings are real or imagined, it causes oppressive stress that is difficult to manage. A great way to manage feelings of helplessness is to challenge the thoughts that are causing the feelings. Are you really helpless? What is in your control? How can you move toward accepting what is outside of your control? Each of these questions is great to ask when managing stress caused by feeling helpless.

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