Health

The Top Causes of Stress (With Remedies to Solve Them)

By Jon Rumens on 05 April 2021

A guide to alleviating the pressures of daily life.

Whether you’re under a lot of pressure, facing big changes, or are in a time of uncertainty, we all experience stress on a regular basis.

Sometimes, stress can be a good thing: it’s a sign that we care about something, and it motivates us to focus and work harder. It also has several evolutionary benefits; the perception of stress sets off our fight-or-flight response, which helps us appropriately deal with threats and challenges. 

But according to psychologists, prolonged and repeated stress can have harmful physical and psychological consequences:

  • According to Gregory L. Jantz (Ph.D.,) stress hormones that ready the body for emergencies, also decrease inflammation and white blood cell production – which could cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Neuroscientist William R. Klemm reports that living with high levels of stress hormones can leave the brain functioning differently – causing memory impairment, cognitive problems, anxiety, and depression.

For that reason, we need to regulate the stress we experience and avoid overwhelming levels that might cause us long-term harm. To do so, it’s vital that we identify the causes and these types of stress. Here are three triggers, with tips on how to avoid them.

1. Pushing Yourself Beyond Your Limits

Stress causes

We only have 24-hours in a day, and there’s only so much we can do with that time. For that reason, according to Clinical Social Worker Robert Ciampi, we must come to terms with our limits.

Stress can be the result of being under immense pressure, and a lot of us bring it on ourselves when we take on too much responsibility. Without acknowledging our limits, we make promises and agree to tasks that we probably don’t have time for. In some cases, we don’t even know how to do the task. Overcommitting ourselves in this way causes us to become emotionally overwhelmed and panicked as we frantically try and get everything done.

Worse still, rather than taking time off and taking steps to alleviate the stress, when we take on too much, we’re forced to overwork ourselves to the point of burnout to complete our self-imposed workload. It’s scientifically proven that self-care alleviates stress – and neglecting it is further entrenching the panic and overwhelm of having too much on your plate. 

How to Alleviate This Trigger

The first step to overcoming this cause is coming to terms with your own limits. When you’re asked to do something, rather than immediately saying yes, ask yourself: do I have time? Am I capable of doing so? Will taking this on eat into my self-care? Once you’ve established whether it’s you’re capable of doing so, stand your ground:

     Don’t be a yes-person, be willing to say no. And yes, needing time to relax is a legitimate reason.

 

      Be willing to ask for help and delegate tasks when you’re overwhelmed or feeling stressed. There’s no shame in asking.

2. Fear and Overthinking Uncertainty

Even when we don’t have a lot going on, some of us panic and stress about upcoming events. This is triggered by overthinking any uncertainty we might have in our own lives. Here are a few examples of moments I’ve overthought things and created self-inflicted stress:

       I used to spend hours reflecting on every time I made a mistake.

       When I had a speech coming up, I played through every moment that could go wrong.

       I used to spend a lot of time worrying about “what-if,” and the things I had no control over.

Generally, overthinkers analyze everything, but especially the unwanted and spontaneous worries that pop into their head. Of course, doing so doesn’t achieve anything – but it does leave us stressed, anxious and frustrated about upcoming events.

How to Alleviate This Trigger

In his book, “The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Thinking The Worst,” David Carbonell states:

“Overthinking is rooted in uncertainty. Because we feel vulnerable about the future, we keep trying to solve problems in our head.”

But things are rarely ever as bad as they are in our own heads, and there’s no real benefit of overthinking – it just stresses us out for no reason. For that reason, we need to ground ourselves back in reality. Do so by:

 

  1. Distracting your brain. Overthinking sucks us in and prevents us from doing things in our physical environment. Override that counterproductive way of thinking by talking about other things and doing other tasks.
  2. Be consciously aware. Because coming to realize that you are overthinking is the first step in offsetting it. Acknowledge that things aren’t going to be as bad as you think and try to snap out of it.

3. Poor Time-Management

Even when we have a manageable number of tasks coming up, we cause ourselves unnecessary stress when we have poor time-management skills. We tell ourselves we have plenty of time, put a task off, and procrastinate. Doing so is nice in the short-term, but as the deadline approaches, we experience an immense amount of stress and overwhelm as we try and get things done in time.

We would save ourselves from a lot of panic if we just planned and started things in advance, rather than putting things off until the last minute.

How to Alleviate This Trigger: Use FocusMe

One reason our time-management is so bad is because we get distracted and procrastinate. When we sit down at our computers, social media – and we would much rather use them, rather than complete a boring task we’re not really looking forward to.

 

To overcome this, we recommend using blocker software, like FocusMe. It prevents you from succumbing to these temptations and distractions. Instead, it makes sitting down at your computer a space to concentrate and work. In doing so, you can stop putting off those important tasks until the last minute, and avoid the stress and panic that comes from waiting until the last minute to start.