Main Causes of Stress

Stress causes so much unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life, it’s worth our time to look at some of the main causes of stress.

So, what kinds of things cause stress?

The truth is, just about anything could be a source of stress to somebody. And it is different for different people. One person’s recreation is another person’s stressor (think rock climbing, for example.)

The main causes of stress that most of us have in common, though, tend to fall into three general categories: • Physical Stressors

• Social Stressors

• Emotional Stressors

Physical Stressors

Physical stress factors include all those things that cause stress on the body. So chronic pain or illness, including allergies, can be a stress factor. Lack of sleep is one of the most common causes of stress on the body, as is poor nutrition. Being subjected to too much noise or overcrowded conditions can often produce stress.

And then, of course, the many and varied substances we put into our bodies can cause physical stress. For example, too much alcohol, drugs – illegal or misused prescription and over-the-counter medications, tobacco, food additives, and too much caffeine &/or sugar.

Social Stressors

Social stressors are things that have to do with our connectedness (or lack of it!) with other people and the communities we live in. So retirement, for example, which is supposed to be a “good thing” often results in feelings of loneliness and loss of purpose. In fact, any kind of rapid changes in life, whether good or bad, create stress.

One of the biggest causes of stress, (no big surprise here!) is our job! Unemployment, job changes, or poverty produce financial stresses which can feel overwhelming. Especially these days when so many people are working for organizations who are out-sourcing and downsizing their workforces.

Emotional Stressors

Emotions can also be one of the main causes of stress. This frequently shows up in feeling in some way “not good enough.” We don’t feel like we look as good, or work as fast, or make as much money as someone else. It is frequently the result of our own self-talk and self-criticism. Deep inside, we feel like a failure as a person and if anyone could really see inside of us, they would know we’re an impostor.

The really sad thing is, most of that negative self-talk has its roots in negative early childhood programming. It’s the voice of a demanding or unreasonable parent that still talks in our heads. And sometimes it’s the voice of an abusive spouse or partner who tries to control us by criticizing or cutting us down.

Emotional stress is often felt as guilt, or that double bind situation when we feel “darned if we do, and darned if we don’t.” That no matter what we do, it isn’t enough.

Strangely enough, this kind of stress produces both the fear of failure AND the fear of success. More about this later.


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A Better Day Counseling Services & Paula Sharp, LCSW

Serving Boise, Eagle, Meridian and Treasure Valley, Idaho

Located at: 1414 W. Franklin St., Boise, ID 83702

(208) 344-4343

In the Heart of Boise, for Good!

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