Stress impacts your mental and physical health. In the worst cases stress can cause death, but even when it doesn’t cause physical death, it can cause the death of joy and peace within you. After working in the mental health field for nearly 20 years, I have noticed stress is caused by one or more of the following 10 categories. Many do not even realize the dangerous impact these stresses have on them.
#1. Lack of Self Compassion
Are you being too hard on yourself? If you are stressed because of a lack of self-compassion, you are usually oblivious that this is the problem. You may be preoccupied with what others will think of you and tend to think the worst about yourself. You give and give until there is nothing left. Perhaps you are a people pleaser whose sense of value and worthiness are dependent on what others think or feel about you. You lack enough self-compassion to go after your dreams, set healthy boundaries, take reasonable risks, or ask for what you need or want because of a fear of failure or underlying belief that you are not enough (I’m not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, perfect enough, giving enough, hard-working enough, deserving enough, etc.). Being overly critical on yourself is a big contributor to stress.
#2 Mental Illness
When you are dealing with mental health problems (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, etc) it effects your functioning in significant ways. Mental illness can affect your ability to hold a job, manage finances, and maintain healthy relationships. Negative feelings overwhelm you. You have a difficult time controlling your emotions and it interferes with important aspects of your life. The symptoms, the stigma and the shame all contribute to the stress someone with mental illness experiences.
#3 Chronic/ Major Medical Condition
People struggling with serious health concerns AND their caretakers are under extreme amounts of stress. This can include a range of conditions from a child with ADHD, to a parent with dementia, recovering from a bad accident or battling cancer. The effects of having a medical condition are not just physical, but may also be, mental, emotional behavioral and effect all involved. It puts strains on relationships and overall health. Dealing with everything that is involved from the symptoms, prognosis, appointments, emotions and lack of understanding from others causes high amounts of stress.
#4 Unhealthy Relationships
Unhealthy relationships are not limited to relationships with partners or significant others but can also be friends, co workers, children, in laws etc. Unrealistic expectations, betrayal, poor communication, lack of connection, parenting conflicts, codependency, bulling, toxicity, lack of boundaries, are just some of the causes of conflict and stress. Getting along with others is not always easy and relationships with others is something near impossible to avoid. Any time you have two people with different DNA, life experience, expectations and communication skills, conflict can develop and cause stress.
Not everyone that is alone is lonely. Loneliness is the feeling of depression you get because you feel alone and is one of the most painful and stressful emotions a person can experience. The feeling of isolation can occur whether you are single or married, around people or by yourself. Loneliness can lead to depression and depression can lead to loneliness. People have a biological need to feel that they belong and feeling like that need is not being met causes stress.
#6 Unfulfilled Purpose/ Goal
Not knowing or pursuing your purpose or not reaching a goal is a stress for many people. Whether your goals are financial, career, marriage, children, weight loss or more, people get stressed when they have an idea of where they want to be or think they are supposed to be but aren’t. Some people are stressed because they don't know what that purpose is, but they know they are miserable where they are now and know it needs to change. Perhaps it is due to lack of motivation or perhaps it is that you are an over achiever or perfectionist and all you have already accomplished is somehow not enough because you are l looking for the next thing. Not fulfilling goals causes people to feel stressed because they feel emotions like shame, frustration, sadness, impatience, unworthiness because they are stuck or stagnant.
This is one of the biggest stresses a person will experience in life. Stress can come from experiencing the death of a loved one, but the stress of loss can also come from losing hopes and dreams. An injury that prevents you from being able to have the career of your dreams, financial failure, divorce/break up, loss of social connections from a geographic move and other loss are a common cause of stress. It is important to remember that everyone grieves in different ways. There is no wrong or right way to grieve. There is no way to rush the process or hurry it along. It can be extremely painful and stressful.
#8 Poor Time Management
Doing too much. Being busy, but not productive. Many people are stressed because they feel overwhelmed. They have too much to do in too short of a period of time and are unable to get it all done. They feel unaccomplished, unfulfilled and like they are constantly running. This can be caused by lack of motivation, inability to say no, being busy not productive, not having a schedule or routine, not asking for/allowing help or not prioritizing actions according to your value system.
#9 Major Life Change
Moving, a new job, new baby, travel, your child moving out or any big life change can cause stress. When change is stressful, it is usually because you have a fear of the unknown. Specifically, it is thinking that the unknown is going to turn out bad. Your mind goes to worst case scenario and a long list of what-ifs in order to attempt to prepare for catastrophe. If you are excited and expect things to go well, it is unlikely the change will be as stressful for you.
Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as rape, abuse, car accident, or war has profound effects on a person even if they do not develop post-traumatic stress disorder. It can be stressful both during the event and for years after. It shapes how a person sees the world, their sense of safety, trust and more. Cues that remind someone of the trauma like certain sounds, situations, or smells can cause a person’s stress to rise involuntarily. Trauma can cause stress in many ways, on many levels and for an extended period of time.
Click the following links for more information on:
Dangers of Stress:
Effect of lack of Self Compassion:
Stress of Mental Illness
Stress of Chronic Illness
Physical Effects of Unhealthy Relationships
Health Effects of Loneliness
Effects of Feeling Unfulfilled
Health Effects of Loss
Health Effects of Poor Time Management
Effects of Life Change
Effects of Trauma