When determining what causes stress in our lives, we could list events such as traffic jams, work deadlines, visiting obnoxious relatives, or handling a child's temper tantrum. Yet, when we delve more deeply, we find that the anticipation of upcoming events or reliving past events creates the most significant stress. It is our mind's continuous worrying that can keep us up at night. Stressing over the outcome of future events or being concerned about past situations can keep us tense, anxious and fatigued.
Stress can wreak havoc on our emotions, but there are many physical effects on our body as well. It used to be, during the age of our caveman ancestors, that stressors were caused by some imminent physical crisis, like being attacked by a wild animal, for example. Now, we can get so focused on the urgency of deadlines, and caught up in what we think is important, that tension and anxiety begins to overwhelm us. Time constraints becomes the enemy. Time management and stress become intertwined.
The issue of control is central to coping with problems and stress. When things feel under control you are likely to feel content and secure. You know what to expect. When life gets out of control your deepest insecurities can erupt. Worries about control often come from seemingly insignificant events that occur. When daily events threaten your sense of control in some way, from the car breaking down when you need to get somewhere, or grocery store lines being too long when you are in a hurry, you become stressed. What causes stress is the sense of helplessness in your ability to make any changes to remedy things.
What causes stress at work is often the fact that you are not able to take charge of your own daily work expectations. You work hard, a lot is expected of you, and you have minimal control over the process. This is one of the major causes of stress in the workplace. Having no say in what is expected makes it difficult for you to stay motivated or maintain positive self-esteem. It’s not that you are a control freak, it’s just that you want to know someone is listening to your opinion and that you matter to people in this work environment.
More predictive information about impending stressors can be very stress reducing. What causes stress is a fear of the unknown and a sense of not being able to prepare. Loss of predictability as a stressor is very real. You can optimize your coping strategies if you know what to expect. For example, when visiting the dentist, if you know what to expect regarding a tooth repair, you can mentally prepare yourself. If the dentist tells you that the drilling will only last 10 more seconds, you can bolster yourself to handle the experience.
Often, the lack of control and lack of predictive information are closely related and these two factors are heavily involved in what causes stress. Having the feeling that you are not in control of your own destiny and can't prepare for future outcomes leads to a feeling of helplessness and lack of self-esteem.
Combine loss of control and predictability with a perception of things worsening, and you have the situation of bad things happening, out of your control, and utterly unpredictable. What causes stress to increase in our lives is often the way in we see life circumstances playing out. If you are negative, your mood and attitude will likely contribute to a making the situation more stressful.
Being negative makes you no fun to be around. And being isolated from others, having less social interaction, can lead to increased stress. What causes stress in situations can be increased if you have no one to vent your frustrations or talk out situations to find reasonable solutions. Confiding in friends is one of the effective ways to reduce stress. Try to find ways to stay positive, even in difficult situations. It may not be easy, but friends can definitely help.
On this site there are several articles describing how to reduce stress if you are experiencing a loss of control or predictability. There are many ways to reduce stress in your life, but find the strategies that work best for you.