What Causes Stress?

There are many different causes of stress (stressors), some of them are external pressures from outside sources, such as the death of a relative or friend, while other stressors are internal, based on how a person responds to life situations.

Responses to stress may be determined by cultural background, personality, social circumstances and the current situation in which you may find yourself. These responses may also vary depending on previous experiences and life stage. Everyone will react and respond differently to stress in their lives.

What are the signs of stress?

There are many signs that may indicate you or someone you know is experiencing stress.
Signs of stress are usually experienced as mental, physical, behavioral or emotional changes from what’s normal for us. Some of these signs may include:

  • Lack of motivation or not coping with demands and responsibilities
  • Moodiness, increased or erratic emotions
  • Frustration or increased irritability
  • Inability to sleep or too much sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating, headaches
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxiousness
  • Reliance on alcohol or other substances to cope
  • Increased drinking, eating or nervous habits.

There are many life stressors and life experiences that contribute to our stress responses and impact on our resilience and wellbeing. Some of these include:

  • Interpersonal relationship problems
  • Family or personal illness
  • Conflicts like harassment, bullying
  • Work pressures or job loss
  • Traumatic events
  • Financial problems
  • Concerns about life direction

Why is managing stress important?

Our lives are becoming more hectic than ever before. Life is full of change, which affects us as individuals, friends, family members, employees, and in community life and society generally.

Everyone reacts differently to different challenges and circumstances. A situation that may bring about a positive stress response for one person, may have a negative impact on someone else.

Too much stress over an extended period of time can be harmful to mental and physical wellbeing and impact on your ability to function and live productively.

Monitoring our health and resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and challenges, to cope with downs and ups of life. There are available practical strategies that can help you to learn how to manage and even reduce the level of stress in your life. These strategies will help anyone build resilience and maintain a healthy life balance:

  • It is important to be aware of any stress building up and to find out what may be the cause and whether the stressors are causing negative or positive reactions to occur.
  • By acknowledging the stress, it is then possible to action before becoming overwhelmed and to do something to take control. It is important to recognize the signals that things are not going so well. Ignoring these signals can put resilience and wellness at risk.
  • By learning to recognize what is normal stress and when something is abnormal, action can be taken to manage the changes needed.
  • Learning how to respond appropriately will help to build personal resilience, ‘stress down’, and improve health.

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