“My key to dealing with stress is simple: just stay cool and stay focused.”
Ashton Eaton, Athlete
Stress: Causes, Effects & Solutions
Stress can be defined as a biological and/or physiological reaction of an organism to an environmental condition. Stress can come in several different forms in our daily life. It can be quite harmful since stress may cause serious adverse effects for our health, including mental as well as physical health issues.
In this article, the causes, effects and solutions for stress are examined.
Causes for Stress
- Stress at work
- Death of family members or friends
- Getting married
- Taking care of a relative
- Chronic diseases
- Mental issues
- Family stress
- Holiday stress
- Social pressure
- Life-changing events
- High expectations
- Insufficient sleep
- Information overload
Stress at work
Many people experience high levels of stress at work every day. Especially in well-paid jobs, people are often required to work long hours and have high pressure due to ambitious deadlines.
Moreover, some people might also have principals which are not empathetic and may treat their employees quite badly.
Thus, if you work in such an environment, chances are that you will suffer from substantial stress during your working career.
On the other extreme, unemployment can also lead to significant stress. Some people need attention and their work to feel good and stay healthy. These people will suffer if they become unemployed since they often have low levels of self-esteem and will therefore feel worthless without their job.
Moreover, unemployment also often leads to a shortage of money, which may also translate into stress since people may worry about paying their bills and their rent in the near future if they are not able to find a new job.
Especially in our nowadays society, there is a quite high frequency of divorces. People have simply more freedom and opportunities compared to the past centuries and are therefore much more willing to get divorced if they are no longer happy in their marriage.
However, a divorce often implies a high level of emotional stress, since your partner might not be willing to accept the divorce and might fight to get you back. In extreme cases, you may also be threatened by your partner to stay, which causes even more stress.
Death of family members or friends
The death of family members or close friends is always hard, especially if you are not prepared for it. For instance, if someone dies in a car accident and you get noticed about it, this could really throw you off guard since you haven’t expected things like that happening to you.
This could cause high levels of stress since you might not be able to deal with your emotions and may suffer from adverse consequential mental health issues in the future.
Although for many people, getting married is considered one of the best days of their life, it also implies high levels of stress since there is much planning involved and many things could go wrong. Thus, especially in the preparation phase, marrying can cause significant levels of stress.
Taking care of a relative
Especially when family members become older, they often suffer from health issues and might need someone to watch after them. When there is no money to employ someone to do so or you are so emotionally attached that you want to take care of your relative by yourself, this may cause substantial emotional stress.
Imagine you take care of your mother or father and you have to watch him or her slowly losing their ability to walk, speak and so on. This can be quite devastating and you may not be able to deal with this extreme situation, which may lead to severe stress.
Chronic diseases may also lead to significant stress levels. For instance, if you suffer from a chronic disease, you often experience substantial physical pain, which lowers your life quality.
This in turn will lead to frustration since you would have expected your life to be more fun and of a higher quality. This frustration may also turn into stress if you are not able to deal with the situation.
You may also suffer difficulties to manage your life due to the inability to walk or other impairments that come along with your chronic diseases.
Additionally, you often have to use drugs to fight your diseases, which may alter your character and may also lead to additional stress.
Mental health conditions may also lead to stress, both for the person who suffers from mental conditions, but also for the persons surrounding him or her. Imagine that you have to take care of a mentally sick person. This could be quite stressful since you might not expect how a mentally ill person might react in certain occasions.
Moreover, the mentally sick person might also suffer from his or her disease since he or she might not be able to manage his or her day without help, which may lead to a high level of frustration.
Some people also suffer from substantial levels of family stress. Children are often quite exhausting since they have so much power. When you come home from a long workday, you might want to relax on the couch instead of playing with your children. Moreover, your wife might get mad at you from time to time as well. All this causes substantial levels of stress at home.
Although holidays are supposed to be relaxing, some people even experience high levels of stress during their holidays. This is often due to the fact that they work hard all year long and are really looking forward to their vacation.
This leads to quite high expectations regarding their holidays. However, high expectations also often imply a high level of frustration if things are not working out like planned, which may translate into substantial stress.
Many people might not even be consciously aware of the high social pressure that is present in our society. However, people unconsciously mostly behave in a way that they fit into the social norms of our society.
If you want to break out of the social norms, it is quite hard for people since they are often blamed for that by others who think their way of life is the only way to go.
People are usually quite intolerant, which makes it hard for other people with different lifestyles to enjoy their life, which may lead to significant stress for these people.
Due to past experiences or also through the report of threats in our media every day, some people may be afraid to go outside and live their life to the fullest since they might fear being attacked or harmed. This may translate into increased stress levels and might also lead to severe mental health issues.
You might also experience certain events in your life that are so hard to digest that you will simply be overwhelmed and may not be able to emotionally deal with the issue. This could come in the form of the death of your children or other horrible happenings.
If you have to deal with such a situation, it usually takes a quite long time until you can get back to your old life, depending on your mental strength. Such a life-changing event often leads to enormous stress levels since you never experienced it before and do not know how to properly deal with it.
High expectations are a big cause of increased stress levels. If we consider a day as good or bad is often solely related to our expectations about it. If we had low expectations, we would have been more likely for positive surprises and would have been happier because of that.
On the flip side, high expectations often lead to frustration and disappointment since these expectations are often not met in real life and people get angry and frustrated due to that which in turn leads to a higher stress level.
Sleep is crucial to reduce our stress level since when we sleep, we can relax and disconnect from our stressful daily life. However, if you don’t get enough sleep, you will not be able to relax enough and may suffer from unhealthy stress levels due to that.
In our nowadays society, we have so much going on every day that many people simply suffer from information overload. There is just too much information around and our brain will not be able to deal with all of that in a healthy manner. Thus, if your mental capacities are not big enough to process the vast amount of information, this may result in high stress levels.
Effects of Stress
- Mental issues
- Sleeping problems
- Difficulty to focus
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Skin issues
- Change in weight
- Heartbeat issues
- Lower sex drive
- Drug use
Stress can lead to many mental health issues, especially for people who have a weak mindset and have not learned to deal with stress effectively.
Mental issues may include depressions, frustration or a loss in the will to live since people may be overwhelmed by stress and might not be able to see the beauty of life anymore.
Many people also suffer from headaches due to stress. Headaches often occur when our brain is simply overwhelmed by all the information and tasks it has to execute.
Especially in times with high levels of stress, many people will not be able to deal with this stress in a proper manner and will suffer from headaches due to that.
It has been shown through many different studies that a high level of stress can cause severe sleeping issues and sleep deprivation. If you have stress at work or in your family and do not know how to solve the problem, chances are that your sleep will significantly suffer due to that.
Moreover, less sleep may in turn lead to higher stress levels since your brain loses the ability to deal with information if you get insufficient sleep. Thus, a vicious circle of stress and insufficient sleep may occur.
Stress can also lead to exhaustion or fatigue. In periods of high levels of stress, you might feel quite tired and unmotivated to move on. Your brain may tell you it is time to quit and relax instead of getting your daily tasks done.
This is often a sign that it is time to slow down. Otherwise, you may experience severe mental issues since your brain will not be able to function in an effective manner anymore.
Difficulty to focus
Stress can also lead you to a state where you are no longer be able to think straight since you are simply overwhelmed by all the information and tasks you have to finish in a short period of time.
Making things worse, you might also lose the ability to carry out rather easy things since your mind suffers from the information load and focusing on specific topics might not be possible anymore.
High blood pressure
Stress also causes high blood pressure which can cause serious health issues, especially if it is on a constantly high level. Especially for people who already suffer from high blood pressure due to genetics, these people are at great risk to suffer from severe health issues from stress since stress will increase their blood pressure even further to a point where it will become quite unhealthy.
Heart attacks are a quite common issue related to stress, especially when people become older and are no longer able to deal with too much stress anymore.
Heart attacks are one of the most common causes of death around the globe. People who are not able to deal with stress in a healthy manner may be at great risk to suffer from heart attacks and the adverse effects in the future.
Stress may also cause skin issues of many forms. Studies show that our skin often also reflects our mental state. If we are in bad mental condition, chances are that we experience skin issues since our body often reflects our mental state.
Change in weight
People deal with stress in completely different ways. Some people will lose plenty of weight due to stress since they simply lose their appetite due to their problems. Others will eat much more and will suffer from a huge increase in weight or even from obesity. Both options may cause severe health issues in the future.
In the past decades, an increasing number of people suffer from mental conditions like burnout. Especially in their jobs, they often feel overworked and are therefore at great risk to burn out. This simply means that people will feel quite tired of their work and their life which in turn may lead to depression or other mental issues.
Some people may also suffer from heartbeat issues when they have to face great levels of stress. This can lead to severe health issues and may even lead to death in certain cases if people are not willing or able to decrease their stress level.
Lower sex drive
Stress may also lead to a lower sex drive. If people are not able to relax from their jobs and their thoughts are constantly at work, they may lose their interest in sexual activities which may in turn lead to divorce in the long run.
Due to a stressful job, some people are also willing to consume drugs that may increase their ability to work in the short run, but will ruin them in the long run.
Although it is hard to measure how big the issue of drug use really is in companies since no one will admit that he or she consumes illegal substances, it is estimated that many more people consume substances to increase their working power than most of our population would expect.
Solutions & Measures for Stress Reduction
- Change your job
- Reduce stress at home
- Change your attitude towards life
- Live more humbly
- Become more confident
- Don’t value other opinions more than your own
- Do not take life too seriously
- Eat more healthy
- Get more sleep
- Avoid the use of drugs
- Physical activity
- Just say “No!”
- Improve time management
- Know your limit
- Contact a psychologist
Meditation may be a solution to reduce stress for some people. It has been shown by studies that meditation can significantly reduce stress. However, it often takes practice and will likely not work from the beginning. Many people will therefore not be willing to engage in meditation since they do not want to sacrifice time for that.
Change your job
If you have a job which is quite demanding and implies high levels of stress, you might consider quitting your job and search for another job which is not stressful and which you might like more, even if the salary may be lower. By doing so, you will be able to increase your quality of life since you will reduce your stress level.
Reduce stress at home
A big fraction of our daily life is self-made. You can significantly reduce your stress level at home by relaxing more and by not taking too many after-work activities. You should also teach your children how to keep themselves busy so they will not necessarily need you as parents all the time. Moreover, you should try to organize yourself better in order to reduce overall stress.
Change your attitude towards life
Most of our disappointments and the related stress in life come from the fact that many people simply have a completely flawed perspective on life. If you grew up in the Western world and were able to get a solid education, you are far ahead of most of our global population.
If you do not recognize that, you should stay in a poor developing country for a few months. After this period of time, you will come back completely changed since you will recognize how good your life at home really is compared to the living conditions of billions of other people on our planet.
Live more humbly
Although social propaganda always teaches us that we urgently need the hippest clothes and the newest smartphone, these things will actually not make you happy at all.
Instead, striving for this kind of lifestyle will lead to significant stress since you have to earn quite a lot of money which in turn often implies working in stressful jobs. By living more humbly, you can vastly improve your level of happiness and decrease the level of stress.
Become more confident
A high stress level is also often linked to low self-esteem and a low level of confidence. If you are confident, you will be able to deal with stress much better since you will trust in your ability to solve problems. Thus, becoming more confident is key to lower your stress level.
Don’t value other opinions more than your own
You should also ask yourself what is really important for you and what you want to accomplish in life. When you have found the answer to these important questions, you should stick to your goals, no matter what other people think about you. By doing so, you will be able to stay emotionally stable under stress since you have the inner belief that what you do is the right way to go.
Do not take life too seriously
In order to reduce your stress level, it also helps to not take life too seriously. Yes, there are some things in life that are quite annoying. Yet, life can be quite good for most of the time if you value what you got.
Eat more healthy
Eating healthier can significantly reduce your stress level since our food consumption behavior is directly linked to our physical and also to our mental well-being. You should inform yourself which food will be best for you and eat according to that in order to feel better and also to reduce your stress level.
Get more sleep
You should also make it a priority to get enough sleep. It has been shown by several studies that sleep is crucial for a healthy mental state. Make sure that you sleep at least seven hours a night to reduce your stress level.
Avoid the use of drugs
Although drugs might improve your short-term performance, they can have severe downsides in the long run. Thus, it is crucial that you learn to deal with stressful situations without using drugs. This will also increase your confidence level and you will be prouder of yourself if you manage your problems when you are sober.
For a healthy mental state, it is also crucial that you exercise enough in order to keep your body and your mind healthy. Exercising helps most people to reduce their stress level and increases their willingness to take on mental tasks after that.
Just say “No!”
In our nowadays society, there is so much going on and there are so many events you are invited to. However, attending all these events will lead to high levels of stress. Instead of going to all these events, you should just leave out some of them in order to reduce your stress level.
Improve time management
Time management is crucial when it comes to reducing stress levels. If you don’t know how to organize yourself, you may be overwhelmed quite easily, especially if you have many different tasks that you have to manage. With proper time management, you can reduce the pressure and stress substantially.
Know your limit
It is also crucial that you know your limit. You can’t just work 24/7 for a longer period of time. After a short period of time, your body and also your mind are likely to collapse. In the worst case, you may even die if you work too much and have too much stress. Therefore, it is crucial to take breaks, even in times where you are overloaded with work.
Contact a psychologist
All the measures mentioned before should help you a lot to reduce your stress level. However, if these measures have not been sufficient to reduce your stress level substantially, you might want to contact a psychologist to help you to manage your stress level.
Stress is a big problem in our nowadays society. Especially in the past decades, an increasing number of people complain about their high stress levels and about the adverse effects related to it.
Therefore, it is crucial to reduce stress levels in an effective manner. If you suffer from stress, there are several measures you can take in your daily life in order to reduce your stress level significantly.
By doing so, you can vastly increase your level of well-being and happiness.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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