When feelings of stress become the rule in your everyday life rather than the exception, it can feel hard to pinpoint the precise cause. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and assume that there is no solution to bring down your stress levels.
However, if you take the time to identify specific elements of your daily routine that send you into rumination, chest tightness, or stress snacking, you might realize that the seemingly small things can lead to a full-grown snowball.
In this article, we’ll go over the most common causes of stress in daily life, help you understand what stress is and why you experience it, and explain how you can manage your stress in a more positive, healthy way.
What is stress?
Have you ever heard of the fight-or-flight response? This term refers to the way our bodies automatically react to perceived threats or alarming stimuli. We quickly muster up the energy and adrenaline needed to defend ourselves—or make a run for it.
Stress is the way our body reacts to respond to these situations. However, our mind can’t always tell the difference between a real and imagined threat.
In other words, the very stress that may have helped our ancestors fight off bears in the wilderness now may just hinder our ability to socialize at a party or finally get our taxes done.
The bottom line is that stress is supposed to protect and help you when true danger is present.
But since most of the experiences we humans encounter today don’t actually pose life-threatening consequences, we need to sift through our stressors to determine the appropriate and reasonable response to any given situation.
Otherwise, we may overreact by worrying ourselves sick or developing high levels of chronic stress.
One strategy that can be helpful for managing stress is to learn the difference between the “good” kind of stress and the not-so-good kind.
Two types of stress
If someone says the word “stress” in conversation, our minds automatically associate it with a negative connotation.
But did you know that stress can actually be good? This is because there are different varieties of stress. Some stress arises when we are striving to overcome worthwhile challenges. This is the good kind, called eustress.
The bad kind (the one you’re probably more familiar with) is what causes negative feelings of helplessness or anxiety. This kind, called distress, can potentially lead to long-term mental or physical issues.
What defines eustress and distress? Let’s take a closer look.
Eustress is a positive stress response that can lead to helpful feelings such as:
- Increased motivation
- Honed mental focus
- Excitement and confidence
Certain life events can invoke these feelings of “good” stress. Think about a time when you’ve received a big opportunity, maybe in a career or passion project. It probably felt a little scary, but at the same time, you felt capable in your skills and knew you could perform the necessary tasks effectively.
In such a situation, your eustress likely helped you to effectively prepare for and execute the actions required to do an outstanding job.
A good way to judge when you’re experiencing eustress is to observe when your anticipation of an event feels more like excitement and less like nerves. You may feel eustress when:
- Trying a new hobby
- Getting married
- Having kids
- Advancing in your career
When you realize that some stress can be beneficial, it’s easier to build a healthy relationship with this emotion. After all, if we always existed at the same baseline level of emotional arousal, life would be monotonous and it might be difficult to accomplish our meaningful goals.
Eustress can be a helpful indicator that you are pushing outside of your comfort zone and achieving something new.
Distress is a negative stress reaction that can cause less desirable outcomes such as:
- Mental struggles
- Physical discomfort
This unpleasant emotion rises up when you do not feel adequately prepared or equipped to deal with the challenges life is throwing at you.
Situations that can evoke distress may include:
- Public speaking
- Last-minute plans
- Trouble or conflict at work
- Interpersonal conflict
- Feeling ill-equipped or inadequate in your job
- Comparing yourself to others
- Lack of certainty about the future
It is a good idea to eliminate as much distress as possible from your life. If a certain part of your routine causes regular and recurring distress, this could be detrimental to your well-being over time.
For instance, if you are chronically tardy or you always procrastinate, you may set yourself up to experience recurring feelings of distress—which, after many years, can wear you down physically, mentally, and emotionally.
On the same token, removing yourself from environments and people who cause you frequent distress is also important to your mental health.
Most Common Triggers of Stress
Now that you know what eustress and distress are, you can examine the habits within your life that bring about both. Which ones promote positive stress, and which do the opposite? Analyze these patterns to start building a calmer, more balanced life.
The following areas are common breeding grounds for stress to look out for in your daily life:
- Work – When your job responsibilities start to feel like an impossible burden on your shoulders, workplace stress can begin to fester. This can cause you to procrastinate and fall behind, which further perpetuates the cycle of work-related stress.
- Relationships – Whether it’s a platonic friendship, a romantic partnership, or even a tight-knit bond with a family member, strife within your interpersonal interactions can lead to stress when the relationships involve conflict or a lack of communication.
- Health – If you don’t take care of your mind and body, they may not be able to take the best care of you. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise physical activity, or excessive substance consumption may make you feel more stressed in the end.
- Money – When you are struggling to manage your finances, it can feel like you’re drowning without a life jacket. Many people experience financial-related stress in their lifetime. And when the problem exacerbates, the financial stress can multiply.
- Childhood – Sometimes stress stems from the past. If you experienced a traumatic childhood, you may find it extra difficult to deal with stress in a healthy way as an adult. One study found evidence suggesting that childhood experiences may alter brain areas associated with processing long-term stress.
Best stress relief strategies
In order to proactively prevent daily stress and combat symptoms when they arise, you need to be equipped with the right strategies for success. Use the following techniques to bolster your mind and body so that you can manage stress to become happier and healthier.
#1 Rest your mind
In modern society, it can feel tempting to constantly be on the go. However, trying to push yourself past your limits 24/7 is simply not sustainable.
By prioritizing your peace and deliberately setting aside time to recharge, you can return to your work, hobbies, or studies completely refreshed and ready to approach your responsibilities from a clear and stress-free headspace.
Some ways to nurture mental wellness include:
- Adding intentional mindfulness to your calendar – Block out ten minutes in the morning to sit silently and meditate. Journal about things you are grateful for in life. Take a break from work and enjoy a staycation at home. Finally read that book you’ve been wanting to dive into. Find a secluded spot in nature and sit alone with your thoughts for a while. Practice taking slow, deep breaths when you need to calm down and reset.
- Doing technology detoxes – Digital entertainment can be great, but constantly bombarding your senses with stimulation from the internet may lead to an increased risk of stress become harmful. You might see the highlights of your friends’ lives on social media and become stressed out by comparing yourself to them. You may see a constant stream of distressing news stories or online drama and enter a negative headspace. Disconnecting from tech can help you reconnect with your inner peace.
- Talk it out – There are some stressors in life that we are not meant to face alone. Voicing your problems aloud can help you work through them, find a path forward, and feel relief. Whether you choose to confide in your a loved ones or enlist the help of a mental health professional, getting your worries out in the open can be a tremendous help.
#2 Nourish your body
Taking care of your body is another key to reducing stress. Try prioritizing these areas:
- Nourish your body with healthy foods – Certain ingredients help to lower cortisol (a stress hormone) by reducing inflammation in the body. To reap these benefits and feel your best, try to incorporate foods that are high in vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, protein, and probiotics.
- Get your body up and moving – Aerobic workouts benefit your mental state on a neurochemical level. Exercising reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol while stimulating the production of endorphins: chemicals that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Exercise can also serve as a great distraction from the stressors that constantly plague your mind.
- Sustain a consistent sleep schedule – Losing sleep comes with more problems than just the eye bags in the morning. Inadequate sleep can affect your memory, judgment, mood, and physical health. In fact, 21 percent of adults report higher stress levels when they do not get enough sleep.
Manage your stress effectively with Apollo
If you’ve been seeking answers to the questions, what are the causes of stress, and how can stress affect your daily life, we hope the solutions listed in this article have helped you gain some clarity.
One impactful tool that can help you clear your mind, calm your body, and manage stress more effectively is the Apollo wearable. This smart device delivers soothing vibrations that improve your energy, focus, and mood while reducing your helping you with stress management and by promoting relaxation.
We’ve developed top-of-the-line wearable tech that houses the power to improve your quality of life. Founded on a strong basis of university science and research, our products are guided by wisdom from world-renowned expert physicians and researchers. Learn more about Apollo and see if this stress-relieving solution is right for you.
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