Stress_BallWe started this series looking at the consequences of stress in terms of health, and how most modern disease have some root in stress.  Next, we took that one step earlier to try to recognize the first signs and symptoms of stress in the body.

Today, we’ll look at yet an earlier domino in the sequence: the most common sources and causes of stress.

In August of this year, Science News reported the results of a survey interviewing 2500 Americans about their main causes of stress.  The overriding cause of stress for all adults is too many responsibilities.  For those earning less than $20,000 per year, problems with finances and work problems were their biggest sources of stress. Women cite too many sources of responsibilities as their biggest cause of stress, while men point to work problems.

From this same survey, one’s own health and the health of loved ones were all major causes of stress. (See the full chart.) If you’re already in poor health, then you’re 60% likely to say that’s a significant source of stress for you. Good thing you’re reading this blog, to stay in good health. 😉

Broadly, stress can be divided into two categories: external and internal.

External stressors are outside of your control and are frequently environmental or situational.  For example:

  • Physical: noise, lights, extreme temperatures
  • Social: rudeness, bossiness, aggressiveness
  • Organizational: bureaucracy, red tape, policies and deadlines
  • Major life events: death of a relative, lost job, new baby
  • Daily hassles: commuting, being on time, misplaced keys

Internal stressors are mainly thing over which you have control

  • No sleepLifestyle Choices: overexercise, lack of sleep, under or overeating, excess caffeine, overloaded schedule
  • Problematic Self-Talk and Thinking: over-analyzing, excess worry, self-criticism, negatizing everything (always thinking worst case scenario), unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating, rigid thinking
  • Stressful Personality Type: Type-A, perfectionist, pleaser, workaholic

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather an idea list to help you start to pinpoint what might be causing stress in your own life.  From here its about recognizing patterns, things that make your shoulders tense up, your breath become shallow, and your nervous system switch into high alert mode.

Once you’ve noticed your sources of stress, the next step is to begin to change your habits and change how you react to the situation.  In upcoming posts, we will cover solutions for managing stress in your life as well as herbs for counteracting the negative effects of stress.  Until then,

Tell us in the comments below,

What are the major causes of stress in your life?


Featured image Courtesy of Flickr: bottled_void