Stress affects so many people. And while some stress is normal, ongoing stress can have both mental and physical effects that reduce the quality and joy of life. If you suffer from ongoing stress, one of the first steps to making a positive change is to identify your stressors.
Building awareness is the first step to making any change.
When you take the time to identify what adds stress to your life, you can start to proactively make changes that create a better way of life.
What are stressors?
A stressor is defined as:
“something that causes a state of strain or tension”
So these stressors essentially trigger a stress response in our body, making us feel anxious and stressed out.
What are some types of stressors?
There are many kinds of stressors.
Some stressors we can manage, while others are out of our control. Stressors like unexpected life events are often out of our control. While a demanding job is a stressor that we can learn to manage.
There are also external and internal stressors. External stressors are triggered by external factors like a toxic relationship or a stressful job. While internal stressors are triggered internally, such as through self-doubt and low self-esteem.
Anything that makes us feel stressed out or anxious and uneasy could be called a stressor.
Here are a few examples of stressors:
- Not having enough time to do everything
- Worrying about the future
- Work pressure
- Changing jobs or careers
- Toxic relationships
- Relationship problems with family, friends or coworkers
- A divorce or breakup
- Self doubt and low self esteem
- Social anxiety
- Fears – like fears of flying, heights or social events
- Loneliness and lack of connection and friendships
- The death of a family member
- Losing your job
- Financial pressure
- Uncertainty of how something is going to turn out
- Taking care of an elderly family member
- Worry about health or sickness
- Moving homes, cities or countries
- Chronic sickness or injury
- Drug or alcohol abuse of someone close to you
- Emotional problems like anxiety, depression or guilt
- Traumatic events
- Other kinds of change that cause fear and uncertainty
What are your stressors?
I encourage you to take some time for yourself, read through the list above, and note down which stressors affect you.
Remember, this list doesn’t include everything, so think about what else stresses you out, and add it to your stressors list.
If you need to, take the upcoming week to notice what triggers a stress response in your body. Keep a journal if it helps.
Building this awareness is an important first step to making a positive change in your life. Because, with this awareness, you can then start to make some meaningful changes in your life to help you reduce stress and improve your quality of life.
Understanding what you can and can’t control
Remember though, while there are stressors that you can manage or even eliminate, there are others that are out of your control.
It’s important to identify this because often we get stressed out by situations that are out of our control. With this awareness, when a situation arises that feels stressful, we can stop for a moment and objectively look at what is within our control and what is not.
For example, you can change a toxic relationship or a very stressful job, but you can’t change a traumatic life event like the death of a family member.
There are also stressors that are out of your control in the grand scheme of things, but you can control how to deal with them. This can help manage and lower the stress related to it. For example, the company you work for might go through a tough time and suddenly fire many of its employees, including you – this is something you can’t control. Yes, it’s scary to lose your job, but you can’t control how that company operates. When you look at it this way, you take on less stress by the situation, and you can instead focus your energy on what you can control – finding a new job.
There are many different stressful situations in life that you can’t control, such as the pandemic and uncertainty of what the future holds. But, what you can control is how you react to it and what proactively do to keep improving your situation.
What one stressor in your life can you start working on?
From your list of stressors, which one stressor can you start working on?
What is one small change you can make to reduce it?
Share in the comments below. Your input can inspire others to make changes too!
I hope this article has helped you build more awareness of what the stress triggers are in your life. Awareness is the first step to making lasting changes.
Would you like some one-on-one help to reduce the stress in your life and to create a calmer, more balanced and joyful life, you’re welcome to book a free session with me. In this 60-minute session we can talk about the challenges you face and how you could potentially move forward.