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Causes and Effects of Stress

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Nursing & Health

Psychiatry & Mental Health

Stress , Stress Management

  • Words: 1149 (3 pages)

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Table of Contents

Introduction, effects of stress, stress management.

  • Unhappiness with the work. Many people are currently employed as a means to an end. This means, people go to work so that they can earn and not because they like their jobs.
  • Having too much responsibility can be a stressor. There are instances where an individual can have various roles such as working more than one job, raising a child, and trying to make ends meet for their families.
  • Working under unclear expectations can be a stressor as one does not have a say in the decision making process (Parker, 2007).
  • Uncertainty of termination. Many people have been employed on contracts which serve a short period and in some instances, they are uncertain of the possibility of being terminated.
  • Having to present speeches in front of colleagues. Some individuals are asked to make presentations on certain topics and present, but they may be shy and have stage fright.
  • Loss of a job: this can be particularly stressing when one many needs and expectations from family.
  • Divorce: It is one of the toughest experiences one can go through. There are a lot of psychological needs one may have at this point.
  • Getting married: This is usually an exciting event, but it leads to stress during the planning period (Mullan, 2014).
  • Death of a loved one: This is one of the stress factors that we as humans dread every day. Losing a loved one can be a traumatizing moment and it takes time for one to heal.
  • Emotional problems: It ranges from anger, hate, to disgust and sadness. These are emotions people face every day which could cause stress.
  • Chronic illness: This results in stress to both the patient and the family members. Chronic illness requires brings the need for attention from people in the family and it also raises financial implication which is a stressor as well.
  • Traumatic events, and taking care of an elderly person in the society
  • Uncertainty and Fear: Worrying creates a lot of tension on the psychological well-being of an individual, thus, resulting in stress.
  • Perceptions and attitudes: This refers to how an individual views the world. When one is faced with challenges, the can opt to be optimistic and find solutions to the problem (Mullan, 2014).
  • Unrealistic Expectations: This can be from work or family members. Sometimes one maybe given targets that are not reasonable, hence, it can trigger stress on an individual.
  • Change: Change occurs on a daily basis and it may be necessary to adopt to change. When one has difficulty adopting to change, it may lead to higher levels of stress.
  • The physiological effects of stress includes: fatigue, headaches, concentration difficulty, sleeping difficulty, irritability, and stomach upset (Herman 2017).
  • Long term stress may lead to: high blood pressure, depression, heart attack, heart disease, hardened arteries, upset stomach, weight gain, change in sex drive, upset stomach, flare-ups such as arthritis and asthma, and skin problems.
  • Being optimistic and having a positive attitude.
  • One should learn to accept that they do not control all the events that happen in their lives.
  • It helps to be assertive rather than being aggressive. It is better for one to assert their beliefs, opinions, and feelings as opposed to being defensive, angry and passive.
  • Use relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga to ease stress.
  • It also helps to eat healthy, manage time, make hobbies, and not relying on alcohol and drugs to ease stress (Herman 2017).

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What Is Stress?

Your Body's Response to a Situation That Requires Attention or Action

Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

stress causes essay

  • Identifying
  • Next in How Stress Impacts Your Health Guide How to Recognize Burnout Symptoms

Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical , emotional, or psychological strain. Stress is your body's response to anything that requires attention or action. 

Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way you respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to your overall well-being.

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Sometimes, the best way to manage your stress involves changing your situation. At other times, the best strategy involves changing the way you respond to the situation.

Developing a clear understanding of how stress impacts your physical and mental health is important. It's also important to recognize how your mental and physical health affects your stress level.

Watch Now: 5 Ways Stress Can Cause Weight Gain

Signs of stress.

Stress can be short-term or long-term. Both can lead to a variety of symptoms, but chronic stress can take a serious toll on the body over time and have long-lasting health effects.

Some common signs of stress include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Clammy or sweaty palms
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Digestive problems
  • Feeling anxious
  • Frequent sickness
  • Grinding teeth
  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Racing heartbeat

Identifying Stress

What does stress feel like? What does stress feel like? It often contributes to irritability, fear, overwork, and frustration. You may feel physically exhausted, worn out, and unable to cope.

Stress is not always easy to recognize, but there are some ways to identify some signs that you might be experiencing too much pressure. Sometimes stress can come from an obvious source, but sometimes even small daily stresses from work, school, family, and friends can take a toll on your mind and body.

If you think stress might be affecting you, there are a few things you can watch for:

  • Psychological signs such as difficulty concentrating, worrying, anxiety, and trouble remembering
  • Emotional signs such as being angry, irritated, moody, or frustrated
  • Physical signs such as high blood pressure, changes in weight, frequent colds or infections, and changes in the menstrual cycle and libido
  • Behavioral signs such as poor self-care, not having time for the things you enjoy, or relying on drugs and alcohol to cope

Stress vs. Anxiety

Stress can sometimes be mistaken for anxiety, and experiencing a great deal of stress can contribute to feelings of anxiety. Experiencing anxiety can make it more difficult to cope with stress and may contribute to other health issues, including increased depression, susceptibility to illness, and digestive problems.

Stress and anxiety contribute to nervousness, poor sleep, high blood pressure , muscle tension, and excess worry. In most cases, stress is caused by external events, while anxiety is caused by your internal reaction to stress. Stress may go away once the threat or the situation resolves, whereas anxiety may persist even after the original stressor is gone.

Causes of Stress

There are many different things in life that can cause stress. Some of the main sources of stress include work, finances, relationships, parenting, and day-to-day inconveniences.

Stress can trigger the body’s response to a perceived threat or danger, known as the fight-or-flight response .   During this reaction, certain hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released. This speeds the heart rate, slows digestion, shunts blood flow to major muscle groups, and changes various other autonomic nervous functions, giving the body a burst of energy and strength.

Originally named for its ability to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger, the fight-or-flight response is now activated in situations where neither response is appropriate—like in traffic or during a stressful day at work.

When the perceived threat is gone, systems are designed to return to normal function via the relaxation response .   But in cases of chronic stress, the relaxation response doesn't occur often enough, and being in a near-constant state of fight-or-flight can cause damage to the body.

Stress can also lead to some unhealthy habits that have a negative impact on your health. For example, many people cope with stress by eating too much or by smoking. These unhealthy habits damage the body and create bigger problems in the long-term.  

Mental Health in the Workplace Webinar

On May 19, 2022, Verywell Mind hosted a virtual Mental Health in the Workplace webinar, hosted by Amy Morin, LCSW. If you missed it, check out  this recap  to learn ways to foster supportive work environments and helpful strategies to improve your well-being on the job.

Types of Stress

Not all types of stress are harmful or even negative. Some of the different types of stress that you might experience include:

  • Acute stress : Acute stress is a very short-term type of stress that can either be positive or more distressing; this is the type of stress we most often encounter in day-to-day life.
  • Chronic stress : Chronic stress is stress that seems never-ending and inescapable, like the stress of a bad marriage or an extremely taxing job; chronic stress can also stem from traumatic experiences and childhood trauma.
  • Episodic acute stress : Episodic acute stress is acute stress that seems to run rampant and be a way of life, creating a life of ongoing distress.
  • Eustress : Eustress is fun and exciting. It's known as a positive type of stress that can keep you energized. It's associated with surges of adrenaline, such as when you are skiing or racing to meet a deadline. 

4 Main Types of Stress:

The main harmful types of stress are acute stress, chronic stress, and episodic acute stress. Acute stress is usually brief, chronic stress is prolonged, and episodic acute stress is short-term but frequent. Positive stress, known as eustress, can be fun and exciting, but it can also take a toll.

Impact of Stress

Stress can have several effects on your health and well-being. It can make it more challenging to deal with life's daily hassles, affect your interpersonal relationships, and have detrimental effects on your health. The connection between your mind and body is apparent when you examine stress's impact on your life.

Feeling stressed over a relationship, money, or living situation can create physical health issues. The inverse is also true. Health problems, whether you're dealing with high blood pressure or diabetes , will also affect your stress level and mental health. When your brain experiences high degrees of stress , your body reacts accordingly.

Serious acute stress, like being involved in a natural disaster or getting into a verbal altercation, can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmias, and even sudden death. However, this happens mostly in individuals who already have heart disease.

Stress also takes an emotional toll. While some stress may produce feelings of mild anxiety or frustration, prolonged stress can also lead to burnout , anxiety disorders , and depression.

Chronic stress can have a serious impact on your health as well. If you experience chronic stress, your autonomic nervous system will be overactive, which is likely to damage your body.

Stress-Influenced Conditions

  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tooth and gum disease

Treatments for Stress

Stress is not a distinct medical diagnosis and there is no single, specific treatment for it. Treatment for stress focuses on changing the situation, developing stress coping skills , implementing relaxation techniques, and treating symptoms or conditions that may have been caused by chronic stress.

Some interventions that may be helpful include therapy, medication, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Press Play for Advice On Managing Stress

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast featuring professor Elissa Epel, shares ways to manage stress. Click below to listen now.

Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts / Amazon Music

Psychotherapy

Some forms of therapy that may be particularly helpful in addressing symptoms of stress including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) . CBT focuses on helping people identify and change negative thinking patterns, while MBSR utilizes meditation and mindfulness to help reduce stress levels.

Medication may sometimes be prescribed to address some specific symptoms that are related to stress. Such medications may include sleep aids, antacids, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Some complementary approaches that may also be helpful for reducing stress include acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, yoga, and meditation .

Coping With Stress

Although stress is inevitable, it can be manageable. When you understand the toll it takes on you and the steps to combat stress, you can take charge of your health and reduce the impact stress has on your life.

  • Learn to recognize the signs of burnout. High levels of stress may place you at a high risk of burnout. Burnout can leave you feeling exhausted and apathetic about your job.   When you start to feel symptoms of emotional exhaustion, it's a sign that you need to find a way to get a handle on your stress.
  • Try to get regular exercise. Physical activity has a big impact on your brain and your body . Whether you enjoy Tai Chi or you want to begin jogging, exercise reduces stress and improves many symptoms associated with mental illness.  
  • Take care of yourself. Incorporating regular self-care activities into your daily life is essential to stress management. Learn how to take care of your mind, body, and spirit and discover how to equip yourself to live your best life.  
  • Practice mindfulness in your life. Mindfulness isn't just something you practice for 10 minutes each day. It can also be a way of life. Discover how to live more mindfully throughout your day so you can become more awake and conscious throughout your life.  

If you or a loved one are struggling with stress, contact the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline  at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our  National Helpline Database .

Cleveland Clinic. Stress .

National institute of Mental Health. I'm so stressed out! Fact sheet .

Goldstein DS. Adrenal responses to stress .  Cell Mol Neurobiol . 2010;30(8):1433–1440. doi:10.1007/s10571-010-9606-9

Stahl JE, Dossett ML, LaJoie AS, et al. Relaxation response and resiliency training and its effect on healthcare resource utilization [published correction appears in PLoS One . 2017 Feb 21;12 (2):e0172874].  PLoS One . 2015;10(10):e0140212. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140212

American Heart Association. Stress and Heart Health.

Chi JS, Kloner RA. Stress and myocardial infarction .  Heart . 2003;89(5):475–476. doi:10.1136/heart.89.5.475

Salvagioni DAJ, Melanda FN, Mesas AE, González AD, Gabani FL, Andrade SM. Physical, psychological and occupational consequences of job burnout: A systematic review of prospective studies .  PLoS One . 2017;12(10):e0185781. Published 2017 Oct 4. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0185781

Bitonte RA, DeSanto DJ 2nd. Mandatory physical exercise for the prevention of mental illness in medical students .  Ment Illn . 2014;6(2):5549. doi:10.4081/mi.2014.5549

Ayala EE, Winseman JS, Johnsen RD, Mason HRC. U.S. medical students who engage in self-care report less stress and higher quality of life .  BMC Med Educ . 2018;18(1):189. doi:10.1186/s12909-018-1296-x

Richards KC, Campenni CE, Muse-Burke JL. Self-care and well-being in mental health professionals: The mediating effects of self-awareness and mindfulness .  J Ment Health Couns . 2010;32(3):247. doi:10.17744/mehc.32.3.0n31v88304423806.

American Psychological Association. 2015 Stress in America .

Krantz DS, Whittaker KS, Sheps DS.  Psychosocial risk factors for coronary heart disease: Pathophysiologic mechanisms .  In R. Allan & J. Fisher,  Heart and mind: The practice of cardiac psychology. American Psychological Association; 2011:91-113. doi:10.1037/13086-004

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

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  • Stress Essay

IELTS Stress Essay

This is a model IELTS stress essay. It is about stress in modern society and how to prevent it.

It is a causes and solutions type essay. In other words, you have to identify what causes stressand then suggest solutions.

Stress is now a major problem in many countries around the world.

What are some of the factors in modern society that cause this stress and how can we reduce it?

This type of essay lends itself to two body paragraphs - one explaining the causes and the next discussing some possible solutions.

As is important with any IELTS essay, you must always read the question carefully.

The topic is often narrowed down to a particular group of people or topic.

Narrowing Down the Topic

Stress in Modern Life Essay

The key here is that ' modern society ' is mentioned.

If you just talk about stress in general but don't connect it to modern society you may be in danger of not fully answering the question .

You need to brainstorm some issues specific to the world we live in today that may result in stress.

What things effect us today that did not (or not too such an extent) 10, 20, 30 years ago?

Using Personal Pronouns

Also, you may notice that ' we ' is used a lot in the stress essay.

Remember an IELTS essay is not quite the same as an academic essay you will normally write. It is can be more personal as you only have your own experience to support your answer with.

You should avoid too many personal pronouns if possible such as ' I ' throughout the essay but you may wish to use this to give your opinion or examples from your own experience at times. This is ok, but don't overdo it.

This question specifically says how can ' we ' reduce it. So it is already making it personal. So it is ok to write about what all of us, or ' we ', can do.

Model Stress Essay

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

What are some of the factors in modern society that cause this stress, and how can we reduce it?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge.

Write at least 250 words.

Stress Essay Model Answer

Stress is a problem that can have detrimental effects on many people’s lives, and there are various factors in modern society responsible for this. However, there are ways to limit the potential impacts.

The modern world we live in today presents us with many issues that we did not have to cope with in the past. Firstly, there are issues of terrorism that we are constantly confronted with in the media. Whether these are real or not, we are led to believe our lives are in constant danger, be it flying on a plane or travelling on public transport. Climate change is another worry that everyone has to face. The results of a significant rise in temperatures could radically affect our ways of life, and our children’s too. There are also more health issues to be concerned about than in the past, with rises in alzheimer’s, diabetes, and stroke to name but a few. All of these concerns can result in stress.

Tackling such problems will not be easy, but there are measures that can be taken. Governments and the media could play their part by ensuring that instead of persistently bombarding us with such negative images and information about the world in which we live, we are given more positive stories too. However, given this is unlikely to happen, we need to develop our own strategies to distract us from these influences. Of course exercising regularly is one thing we should do as this has been shown to increase endorphin levels and lead to feelings of happiness. Sleeping enough helps us to recuperate and restore our body. Finally, eating properly can improve our health and result in less worry about potential diseases.

All in all, although there are many factors around us today which lead to stress, we can take steps to reduce it. Given that the strains we face in modern society will likely get worse, ignoring it is not an option for many people.

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Psychology Discussion

Essay on stress: it’s meaning, effects and coping with stress.

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Essay on Stress: It’s Meaning, Effects and Coping with Stress!

Stress is a very common problem being faced today. Every individual will experience stress in one or the other time.

The term stress has many definitions, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have defined stress as “an internal state which can be caused by physical demands of body or by environmental and social situations, which are evaluated as potentially harmful, uncontrollable, or exceeding our resources for coping”.

According to David Fontana “stress is a demand made upon the adaptive capacities of the mind and body”.

These definitions indicate that stress represents those conditions under which individuals have demand made upon them, that they cannot physically or psychologically meet, leading to breakdown at one or other of these levels.

Stress is usually thought of in negative terms. But ii can manifest itself in both positive and negative way. It is said to be positive when the situation offers an opportunity for one, to gain something.

Eustress (the Greek word ‘eu’ means good) is the term used to describe positive stress. It is often viewed as motivator, since in its absence the individual lacks the spirit necessary for peak performance. Distress is the term used to indicate negative stress.

Almost any change in the environment- even a pleasant change such as a joyful trip- demands some coping, and a little stress is useful in helping us to adapt. But beyond some point, stress becomes a ‘distress’.

What acts to produce distress varies from person to person, but some events seem to be stressors for every person.

Examples of stressors are:

1. Injury or infections of the body, dangers in environment, major changes or transitions in life which force us to cope in new ways.

2. Physical stressors like noise, pollutions, climatic changes, etc.

3. Hustles of everyday life centering on work, family, social activities, health and finances.

4. Frustrations and conflicts.

The physical, environmental and social causes of the stress state are termed stressors. Once induced by stressors the internal stress state can then lead to various responses. On the other hand, psychological responses such as anxiety, hopelessness, depression, irritability, and a general feeling of not being able to cope with the world, can result from the stress state.

Stress cycles:

Stress has a number of immediate effects. If the stressors are maintained, long-term behavioural, physiological, emotional and cognitive effects occur. If these effects hinder adaptation to the environment or create discomfort and distress, they themselves become stressors and, tend to perpetuate a ‘cycle’ of distress.

Example, a patient spends more money on treatment, may experience continued stress even after the cure of the disease, because repayment of debt cause stress for long time in him or a patient whose leg is amputated after accident may continue to worry about it.

On the other hand, many people have developed ways of coping with stressors, so that they are able to respond adaptively. This is the ‘wellness cycle’. Teaching people adaptive ways of handling stress, so as to promote the wellness cycle is an important part of the newly emerging field of behavioural medicine.

Effects of stress:

Stress is not always harmful. In fact, it is recognised that low levels of stress can even helps for better performance. For example, a student can prepare well for forthcoming examination only if he has some stress. However, excess level of stress is undoubtedly harmful.

The effects of stress are divided into three categories:

a. Physiological effects:

Commonly appearing stress related bodily disorders are-peptic ulcers, hypertension, chronic fatigue, hormonal changes, increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing, numbness of limbs, heart disease and reduction in immunity, etc.

b. Psychological effects:

Anxiety, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, anger, nervousness, irritability, tension and boredom may be experienced.

c. Behavioural changes:

Decreasing efficiency, making mistakes, inability to take decisions, under eating or overeating, sleeplessness, increased smoking, develop addiction to alcohol and drugs, forgetfulness, hypersensitivity or passiveness, accident proneness and interpersonal difficulties are seen.

Stress is linked to disorders such as cancer and heart disorders. There are several mediating variables that determine whether stress becomes dangerous or not. For example, good coping mechanisms which can help to reduce stress, having good social support, often help in reducing stress.

Perception of stress or how a person views stress is also very important. For example, a person may not perceive a situation as stressful whereas the same situation may be perceived as highly stressful by some other person.

People with personality type ‘A’ are more prone to be affected by stress related disorders like cardiovascular diseases. Personality character like hardiness or emotional stability helps to withstand effects of stress.

Hans Selye, a renowned biological scientist defines stress as the nonspecific response of the body to any demand upon it. He termed the body’s response to stressors the “General Adaptation Syndrome” (GAS).

The GAS consists of 3 stages:

1. Alarm reaction:

It is an emergency response of the body. In this stage prompt responses of the body, many of them mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, prepare us to cope with the stressor here and now.

2. Stage of resistance:

If the stressor continues to be present, the stage of resistance begins, wherein the body resists the effects of the continuous stressor. During this stage certain hormonal responses of the body are an important line of defence in resisting the effects of stressors (For example, release of ACTH).

3. Stage of exhaustion:

In this stage, the body’s capacity to respond to both continuous and new stressors has been seriously compromised. The person will no longer be able to face stressor and he will finally succumb to it. The person may develop psychosomatic illness.

The stress leads to many psychosomatic diseases. Treatment for such diseases involves medical help for the physical problems and, at the same time, attention to the psychological factors producing the stress.

Coping with Stress :

There are different ways of coping with stress such as: confronting (facing), distancing (remoteness), self-control, seeking social support, accepting responsibility, escape or avoid (from the stressor), plan a problem solving strategy and positive reappraisal.

Usually two broad type of coping types are seen- Instrumental coping and Emotional coping.

In instrumental coping, a person focuses on the problem and tries to solve it. In emotional coping, the focus is more on the feelings generated by the problem.

Today, self- help remedies, Do to yourself approaches, weight loss clinics and diets, health foods and physical exercise are being given much attention in mass media. People are actually taking more responsibility to maintain good health.

However, some specific techniques to eliminate or to manage more effectively the inevitable, prolonged stress are as follows:

Good physical exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, riding bicycle, playing soft ball, tennis are necessary to cope with stress.

Relaxation:

Whether a person simply takes it easy once in a while or uses specific relaxation techniques such as bio-feedback, or meditation, the intent is to eliminate the immediately stressful situation or manage a prolonged stressful situation more effectively.

Taking it easy may mean curling up with a good book on an easy chair or watching some light programme on television or listening to a light music. Meditation is scientifically proved to be very useful, both physically and mentally to cope with stress.

Behavioural self-control:

By deliberately managing the antecedents and the consequence of their own behaviour, people can achieve self-control. Besides managing their own behaviour to reduce stress, people can also become more aware of their limits and of ‘red flags’ that signal trouble ahead. They can avoid people or situations that they know will put them under stress.

Maladaptive strategies, rigid strategies or relying on one type of coping method lead to increase in the stress. Social support helps reduce the effect of stress. People may provide help, advice, material support or moral support that helps to reduce stress.

In addition to the above, psychotherapy (Beck’s cognitive therapy, Ellis’s rational emotive therapy and Meichenbaum’s stress- inoculation training), skill training, environmental changes, Bio-feedback (control of physical signs such as Blood pressure, headache, etc), family therapy, group therapy, hypnosis, yoga, are found to be very useful. Finally, uses of drugs are some of the other strategies adopted in coping with stress.

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Home — Essay Samples — Nursing & Health — Stress — Stress and Its Role in Our Life

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Stress and Its Role in Our Life

  • Categories: Stress Stress Management Trauma

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Words: 2555 |

13 min read

Published: May 7, 2019

Words: 2555 | Pages: 6 | 13 min read

Works Cited

  • American Psychological Association. (2019). Stress effects on the body. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Coping with stress. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
  • Hansen, N. (2014). The impact of stress on the immune system. Immunology, 144(2), 147-156.
  • Knowlton, S. (n.d.). The positive effects of stress on the body. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/104523-positive-effects-stress-body/
  • McLeod, S. (2010). Stress and the immune system. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html
  • Mills, N. (n.d.). Mental effects of stress. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-effects-on-the-body-4124300
  • Segal, J. (2016). Understanding stress. HelpGuide. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes.htm
  • Simon, H. (2016). How stress affects your body. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
  • Stages of chronic stress. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://extension.illinois.edu/stress/stages.cfm
  • Top ten causes of stress. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.stress.org/top-ten-causes-of-stress

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stress causes essay

Why We’re More Exhausted Than Ever

Stuffed teddy bear laying on couch

P eople are tired. Like, really tired. As evidenced by recent trends such as Quiet Quitting , Coffee Badging , Bare Minimum Mondays , and most of all, The Great Resignation —when over 47 million Americans voluntarily resigned from their positions—people are feeling a strain on more than just their work calendars; they're feeling it on their spirits. We’re now in the era of “The Great Exhaustion,” what writer and computer science professor Cal Newport has called a time when people are looking to reestablish their relationship with work in order to reduce their pervasive sense of drain.

Most people aren’t surprised to hear about “The Great Exhaustion.” We know that we are tired, and we see it in the choices we make every day: ordering dinner because we don’t have the energy to make it, trying to find ways to work from home so we don’t have to add a two-hour commute to our day, infrequent social outings because it is impossible to coordinate busy adult schedules, complete de-prioritization of hobbies—the list goes on and on. People feel so fatigued that they are cutting out activities that used to be commonplace and low stress, like working out and going to the supermarket. Factor in recovering from the pandemic, inflation, and global stressors, and you’ve got a recipe for complete physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.

So why are levels of exhaustion increasing? I speak with burned out professionals for a living, and I have heard countless unique reasons for exhaustion. The three factors that are commonly overlooked but that I believe are contributing the most are unsustainable lifestyles, exposure to stress outside of our control, and financial insecurity. These are facets of our lives that we have managed to normalize. But this normalization has caused us to disregard their impact on our physical and mental wellbeing.

Unsustainable lifestyles

What is the opposite of feeling exhausted? Feeling energized. But what, exactly, helps us to feel energized?

New York Times -bestselling author and researcher Dan Buettner spent his career studying “blue zones,” areas in the world where people live longer, healthier lives than anywhere else. In his work, he explains that people who live in blue zones have one thing in common: they live a human-needs-first lifestyle, in which the things that we need as human beings are prioritized. That means eating whole foods, having rich social lives, getting regular movement, and working with a purpose rather than for the sake of maximizing productivity.

This is a stark contrast to most people’s realities. Outside of these “blue zones,” most people eat processed foods, strategically plan activities to socialize and get movement, and treat work like it comes before everything else. Unfortunately, prioritizing elements found in blue zones requires spare time, energy, and money—things the average (tired) person does not have. An objective look at how most people are living day-to-day doesn’t paint a picture of human needs being met; it paints a picture of enduring our demands. We have not built a human-needs-first society; we have built a business-needs-first society , and it is starting to show.

Stress that is out of our control

Stress within our control (a big project we’re working on, balancing a demanding job and childcare, doing something that scares us) can be mitigated and builds confidence when addressed. Stress outside our control (violence in our cities, climate disasters , tragedy around the world, and inflation) makes us feel helpless. While it is important that we aren’t ignorant to what is going on in the world, it also weighs on us to take in so many stressors without the possibility of resolution.

That stress causes exhaustion is not revolutionary, but it is exposure to stress outside of our control that makes us lose hope. Hope is a powerful counter to exhaustion and burnout. We can endure difficulties with much higher morale when we retain hope that things will get better. When everywhere we turn there is news making us feel like things aren’t getting better, we begin to break down.

Read More: Feeling Off? It Could Be ‘Ambient’ Stress

The biological effect of exposure to these types of stressors cannot be overstated. Scrolling on our phone and watching a troubling two-minute video triggers a stress response in our body that can impact the rest of our day. A stress response each day for years damages our physical and mental health in ways that we often overlook.

Financial Insecurity

Fifty years ago, a single income could afford you a house, car, wife, and kids. Nowadays, you’re lucky if a dual income can afford you some of those things. Having a hard job that supports your lifestyle is one thing; having a hard job that barely pays the bills is another. Much of the exhaustion we are seeing is frustration that working full-time (or more) doesn’t translate to the same security and buying power it used to. Why are we working if not to afford the lifestyle we desire?

When that lifestyle (going to a restaurant on special occasions, going to a concert with friends, getting your kids the Christmas gifts they want) becomes unaffordable, frustration is understandable. Frustration over time turns into defeat, and defeat looks an awful lot like exhaustion. We have been a work-centered society for generations; however, it is becoming increasingly harder to convince people to live a busy, work-centered life when it doesn’t translate to the quality of life that it used to.

The confluence of unsustainable lifestyles, stress out of our control, and financial insecurity creates a very tired group of people. The good news is that there are things within our control that can improve our quality of life and reduce exhaustion. Consider what augments your quality of life and makes you feel energized. Then consider what lowers your quality of life and makes you weary.

At the end of the day, how we feel is determined by small decisions we make. How much sleep we get, prioritizing a morning walk with a friend, consuming media thoughtfully, refusing to discuss work and work stress when we are off the clock—these small things make a big difference, but we must do them consistently and relentlessly. We can’t wait for changes to come from the top down; we must address the factors of exhaustion within our control to ensure we live healthy, peaceful, and satisfying lives.

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  • Stress Essays

Stress and Health Essay

Stress is the state of being worried, run-down or overwhelmed by difficulties experienced in the modern daily lives. Health is the state of being free from any physical or psychological disease or malfunction. When one is stressed therefore, it has direct effects on the individual’s health as the main impact of stress is the distortion of the psychological and physical state. Stress in most cases is emotional and has evident symptoms so much as many human beings fail to admit that they are under stress. This serves the reason as to why many people in the modern generation die of illnesses caused by stress as compared to the generation before us who lived longer. Even though stress is well known for the damage that it causes to people’s health, at some point it appears helpful to the human body systems (Charleston & Nathan, 2012, p. 23-27).

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Situations as such are during educational examinations where stress may help in fastening one’s thinking capacity and probably becoming more creative or when trying to meet work deadlines, making one more productive at place of work. However, many are the cases where stress causes body illnesses which leads to early deaths and sequentially affecting the nation at large when many citizens die of this chronic issue, stress. These illnesses include heart diseases, blood pressure and poor immune system amongst many more. This means that increase in stress is most likely going to increase health problems to people and may even lead to death. Research has shown that many are the people from the current generation die of problems that were initially caused by chronic stress (American Psychological Association, 2015).

Whenever the body experiences stress, some hormones are released to take care of the situation. These hormones are the reason as to why people experience blood pressure as they raise it, increase the rate at which the heart beats and raise the levels of blood sugars. These are the changes that make short term stress helpful, as they help one increase the strength and speed at which they act to overcome the issue at hand. Additionally, rapid and extended change in the above factors, may lead to dangerous illnesses. These changes are also the cause of digestive illnesses, fertility problems and a weak immune system. They may also go as far as causing viral infections such as common cold or the flu, depression, anxiety, lack of sleep and bad headaches (Natural Cancer Institute, n.d). Another main and alarming damage that stress may cause is the mental disorder. Apart from the illnesses highlighted above, stress in most cases serves responsible for mental illnesses to many patients. A mentally ill individual may not be productive as expected and is at some point of no use to the society. These are the dangers that people expose themselves to when they overwork, overthink and subject themselves to any other form of stress. At all cost therefore, human beings need to identify when they are under stress conditions and know how to deal with the situations so as to overcome them. People can choose to live long, which can be achieved by simply controlling any stress that comes their way in the course of daily activities (Fink, 2009, p. 3-5).

Research also shows that the main reason why many people suffer stress is the mental and emotional development. Many people engage their brains and emotions in issues of their daily lives, not knowing that when this is overdone, it may lead disastrous conditions that trigger stress related illnesses. Long working hours serves as the main cause of stress amongst many. This is because some of the duties many people undertake on daily basis are stressful and involve engagement of the brain. Many people therefore cause stress unto themselves, sometimes unknowingly.

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Others go ahead in overthinking on job tasks even when not in their places of work. This means they even add working hours to themselves unaware of the dangers they are exposing themselves to. People do this as they worry about the future. Everyone wants a promising future and does their best in fighting for it. They forget that they may fail to even live to see the future they fight and struggle for depending on the way they do it. It is good to express concern for the future but with limits so as to avoid chronic stress which will have to mess up with the same future.

This is all linked up by the excessive anxiety about work and is a major cause for alarm across the world. Blame at some point is also on employers as they cause stress to their employees. This makes the employee ever stressed about how to increase their productivity and to cope with upcoming issues in job affairs. It is the main reason people extend work emotions and thoughts to even outside working hours which are long already. The way the employers treat these employees also affects their emotions and may cause stress and in the end bring about stress related illnesses (National Cancer Institute, 2012). All the work pressure comes in due to competition in various fields. People are said not know how to cope with competition especially in the business field. They wrongly extend emotionally and mentally into how they will stand out as the best with competition perfection. This makes them mentally busy day and night which is harmful to their body systems.

Everyone wants to integrate work and build up their family and social lives. This aspect may bring about diseases such as blood pressure, depression and the likes (Dewe et al., 2012, p. 11-17). Another aspect of life is the struggle in relationships and marriages. Many people end up involving themselves in marriages that take away their happiness for the rest of their lives. This in many cases happens unknowingly due to haste in choosing partners which leads to settling with the wrong people at the end of it. The stress on how to find solutions has great effect as it builds mental and emotional disturbance. Continuation of such intense stress may also lead to various stress related illnesses. It is therefore good to evaluate oneself before settling down. This way one is able to realize the kind of people they can settle with. It helps in later identifying the right people and engaging themselves in marriages for better and happier lives (Griffin, n.d).

The condition of lack of sleep is brought about by stress and may be harmful as it can lead to stress related illnesses. When one spends sleepless nights, the most probable situation is that the brain is much engaged in thinking of certain issues, solutions or even making plans. If this continues for a long time therefore, it may lead to cause of long term headaches and depression (Siegel, 2008). This condition therefore must be avoided at all cost by running away from stress causing events for it proves to be much dangerous to the health of human beings. It is one of the surest symptoms of stress and it should be attended to with immediate effect to avoid developments of next stages. Obesity is also as a result of stress. When people are under stress they tend to consume a lot of junk food and eventually end up suffering from obesity.

When this is identified therefore, the victim needs to handle their stress levels carefully and strive to reduce them. These two effects of stress end up leading to heart diseases. At this stage, it becomes a hustle in getting treatment for a condition that would have simply been avoided by refraining from any stress related situation (Charleston & Nathan, 2012, p. 47-53). Another disease that may come along with the effects of stress is cancer. Not much research has been done about cancer, but it has been proven that when many people are under stress, they tend to take alcohol and smoke cigarette at a high rate. Alcohol and cigarette lead to cancer development in parts of the human body (American Psychological Association, 2015). This therefore makes cancer and heart diseases some of the illnesses that come along with stress. To fight these diseases, it begins with prevention from involving oneself with stress related situations. Otherwise, it becomes very much difficult and expensive to treat these diseases.

In conclusion, stress is identified as the worst form of injustice an individual would ever do to themselves. Stress related problems are bad news that no one would wish to be associated with. It is easier to prevent one-self from the diseases brought about by stress as compared to trying to cure them. Efforts against causes of stress are therefore worth making in everyone’s daily life. All the same, not all changes triggered by stress happen to be negative. Some changes are positive depending on how far the stress extends. Stress that is short term positively affects the victim in that it helps to improve their speed in thinking and their level of creativity. On the other hand, long term stress brings about increased blood pressure and sugars among many other conditions, which later mature up to diseases. Physical exercise is part of the recommendations from the doctors to avoid any stress related problems amongst many such as enough sleep. It is said that a normal human being should sleep for around seven to eight hours.

  • American Psychological Association. 2015, Understanding Chronic Stress. [Online] Available at [Accessed 20 Apr 2015].
  • Charleston, E. A. & Nathan, R. G. 2012, Stress Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Wellness. New York, Ballantine Books. Dewe, P. O’Driscoll, M. & Cooper, C. 2010, Coping with Work Stress. West Sussex, Wiley & Sons.
  • Fink, G. 2009, Stress Science Neuroendocrinology. Burlington, Elsevier Science.
  • Griffin, M. n.d, 10 Health Problems Related to Stress That You Can Fix. [Online] Available at [Accessed 20 Apr 2015].
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. n.d, Stress Management. [Online] Available at [Accessed 20 Apr 2015].
  • National Cancer Institute. 2012, Psychological Stress and Cancer. [Online] Available at [Accessed 20 Apr 2015].
  • Siegel, S. 2008, Stress and Health. [Online] Available at [Accessed 20 Apr 2015].

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Home / Essay Samples / Health / Stress / The Impact of Stress: Understanding Causes and Effects

The Impact of Stress: Understanding Causes and Effects

  • Category: Life , Health
  • Topic: Challenges , Stress , Stress Management

Pages: 2 (913 words)

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  • The demands of the job,
  • The degree that control staff have over how they do their work,
  • The degree of support they receive by colleagues and superiors,
  • Their relationships with colleagues,
  • Whether they understand their roles and responsibilities properly,
  • How far the company consults staff over workplace changes.

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