Stress — this is a word that has become a very integral part of our lives. There’s work stress, or struggles in our personal lives, and while we may consider it to be ‘pretty normal’, it can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. But before we understand if stress naturally exists, we create it, or what really is the cause of stress, we need to know what this really means.
Devisha Batra, senior counseling psychologist, IWill, tells HealthShots, “Stress is simply the body’s response to changes that create taxing demands. Demands can come from work, relationships, financial pressures, or any other situation that poses a real or perceived challenge to a person’s well-being. All these factors can cause stress. No matter how small or severe stressors are, everybody responds differently to overwhelming situations.”
In our daily life and routine, we use the word stress several times to describe the unpleasant feelings that arise in uncomfortable situations. But what is the cause of stress?
“We all experience stress – distress (stress that negatively affects) and eustress (that energizes us and motivates us). When humans face challenges, they partly have a physical response. The body activates resources that help either you confront the challenge or get to safety mode (fight or flight response),” explains Batra.
Some stressors are beyond our control and occur unexpectedly, and the feelings of stress can increase in tandem with environmental factors. For instance, an accident, the passing away of our loved ones, huge monetary losses, relationship separation, etc are certain situations that arrive unexpectedly.
“Stressors are not always limited to situations where some external situation is creating a problem. Internal events such as feelings and thoughts are a contributor to our stress,” adds Batra.
“Sometimes when we explore the causes, we play a role in contributing to our own stress. These include focusing on things that are not in our control and making unrealistic demands from ourselves, people around us, and situations.
Another reason can be our reaction to people and their behaviours. Our thoughts play a role in how we respond and react, and what we react and respond to. They play a role in our perception and viewpoint. The way we think influences how we feel and behave. Hence, we can create our own stress,” shares Batra.
Sometimes, our assumptions about what might happen and what might not happen in a situation can play a role in increasing our stress. Even giving importance to what other people have to think about us causes stress. Other self-created pressures include taking on too much, being a perfectionist, and being unrealistic about what you can actually achieve. These are a few causes of how one can create pressure on oneself and become own reason for stress.
“It is not possible to change the situation that is causing us to feel stressed. But we can learn to manage and reduce its intensity by focusing and working on thoughts, prioritizing what is important and what is not important, and managing time for ourselves,” concludes Batra.