Stressors that increase stress levels

There are internal and external stressors that cause our systems to get out of whack. It is not only the number of stressors that impact us, but the duration of the stress (e.g. chronic) and also the perceived level of threat, i.e. how stressful we think it is; life threatening, difficult to cope with, or just an irritant.

 Internal Stressors

  • Habits
  • Personality
  • Physical aspects
  • Health issues or disabilities
  • Mental conditions
  • Emotional problems

External Stressors

  • Relationship issues; toxic or disruptive relationships
  • Environmental stressors
  • Social pressures
  • Government policies and laws
  • Political unrest
  • Economic instability
  • Domestic pressures
  • Financial insecurity, lack of money, or other financial challenges
  • Vocational, job, work, occupation and career issues
  • Communication skills (lack of / insufficient)
  • Pending judicial action

 What things cause us stress?

Most of us are aware of the bigger stress factors, the life-changing events like bereavement, divorce, marriage, loss of a loved one, moving house, new jobs, job loss, retirement, retrenchment, and so on. But there are also the smaller, but no less stressful daily events, situations and conditions that take their toll.

  • What we take in, ingest and digest: toxins in the air, our food, drinking water, drugs, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and excessive amounts of sugar.
  • What we have contact with: toxins in the environment, on our clothes, in aeroplanes, and public places, schools, universities, workplaces, supermarkets and crèches are all places where ‘nasties’can be picked up.
  • Extreme temperatures, humidity, weather conditions.
  • Relentless, daily, petty annoyances.
  • When things don’t go smoothly according to plan.
  • When there are too many things demanding our attention that pull us in different directions, especially if we are not sure what is best to do or what to do first, and feel we have to do everything.
  • Repeated unplanned interruptions, disruptions, diversions and changing priorities.
  • Noise pollution.
  • Unexpected mishaps and events.
  • Crises, alarming situations and crime.
  • Bad relationships.
  • Impossible deadlines.
  • Injury, illness, dis-ease, aches, pain and ailments. These can be as a result of stress, but can also cause more stress.
  • Challenges:
    •  Physical: overtraining, busyness, overwork, pushing boundaries, financial (overspending and overextending yourself), hiding and becoming a-social or antisocial, not looking after our most basic human needs, or pandering to them (overindulgence – gluttony, sloth, greed, lust, pride, and so on).
    • Emotional: suppressing or denying emotions, low self-image, over identifying with emotions and feelings, wallowing in self pity, resentment, rage, feeling done-in, or compromised in some way, obsessive guilt, blaming others for our problems, and overindulgence for example in sorrow, grief, or ‘poor me’, or feeling like an alien in this world, totally misunderstood and as though the whole world is against you.
    • Mental: too much or too little stimulation, stress, worry, boredom, negativity, criticism, analysis by paralysis, perfectionism, rigid and limiting thoughts.
    • Social; how we interact with others and vice versa, our communication and interaction skills or lack of it, and to what degree we feel we fit in and belong.
    • Spiritual: beliefs and faith.
    • Unconscious: for example (a) going against the grain; doing things that are illegal or against your morals, ethics, customs and priory rules, (b) scoreboard; each time you compromise your beliefs and break your rules (or those of your clan, group, family, community), you get a black mark from your unconscious that diminishes your self esteem; (c) expectations that aren’t met make you feel wrong, or wronged, (d) assumptions; you do not get the results or behaviour you are expecting, setting you up for disappointment, (e) phobias, and so on.

 Too many stressors

Getting heart palpitations from all the things that can and do cause stress? Don’t get too alarmed at all the things impacting on your body and immune system. Remember we as a species have many aeons of development and adaptation behind us where we have learnt to cope and deal with most of these stressors automatically. And yet, herein lies the rub; we think ‘it is the way we are’ so we do not question the way we react and the effect these unconscious thoughts, habits and challenges have on our bodies.

The problem is we have not had enough time to learn to cope with our modern lifestyle with its fast pace, rapid change, international travel, and globalization, so it is taking its toll. There is enough proof of this. Our hospitals are full, and as you walk down the street you may notice there are very few people smiling, let alone singing, dancing, or skipping with glee.

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