Causes of Stress
As each individual deals with it differently, it can be hard to identify the exact cause. However, there are a number of common causes. The brain doesn’t tend to distinguish between real or imaginary stress. It’s often created by what we think will happen rather than what will actually happen.
A number of common causes include:
- big changes
- high pressure environments
- constant worrying
- not having enough going on in your life
- not having any control over a situation
- having an overwhelming amount of responsibility
- injury, illness or long-term health problems
- breaking up with a partner or getting a divorce
- being a carer for a relative or friend who needs a lot of support
- losing your job
- problems with housing conditions
- money worries
‘Happy’ events such as marriage or moving house can also cause stress. This is because along with the excitement, these situations bring massive changes in your life. These ‘happy’ situations can be difficult to deal with due to the pressure or need to feel happy. If you know a certain situation is causing these feelings, hypnotherapy for stress management might be able to help.
If you are experiencing stress you may exhibit physical, emotional and/or behavioural changes.
Physical changes. When you are in a demanding situation, your body releases more ‘fight or flight’ chemicals to prepare for a potential emergency. Noradrenaline and adrenaline raises your blood pressure, increases the rate at which you sweat and increases your heart rate. These chemicals can also reduce your stomach activity and blood flow to your skin. Cortisol releases sugar and fat into your body, yet it also hampers the effectiveness of your immune system. These internal changes make it easier for you to run away or fight.
Sadly, these changes won’t help you when you’re in a busy office environment or on the tube in rush hour. You won’t be able to fight, nor will you be able to run away. So in turn, you won’t be able to use up the chemicals your body has produced. If this happens continuously, the changes that the chemicals produce can damage your health. As a result, you could feel nauseous and experience indigestion and headaches. You might perspire more, suffer from aches and pains, have heart palpitations and start to breathe faster. In the long-term there might be a risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Emotional changes. There are a number of feelings you may experience when going through a demanding situation. These include frustration, fear, anger, depression and anxiety. The unfortunate thing about these feelings is that they can feed on each other, which can lead to physical symptoms. Extreme anxiety, which can be caused by stress, can cause headaches, heart palpitations and giddiness. These symptoms may lead you to feel even more stressed as you may worry you have an even more serious condition.
Behavioural changes. You may start to behave differently when you become stressed. As an example, you may become indecisive, defensive or withdrawn. You may find it difficult to get to sleep. And even if you are normally a mild-mannered individual, you may become physically or verbally aggressive.
How to cope with stress
Different occupations will be more demanding than others, and in work, stress is recognised to be one of the main causes of sick absence from work. Research suggests that about half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress that they believe is making them ill. Changes in personal lives, such as the death of a loved one, a new relationship, a job promotion or the birth of a child can also cause it as adjustments in our lives are needed to be able to cope. The aim should never be to eliminate stress completely, but find effective ways of managing it and using it to our advantage.