Everyone experiences stress from time to time; it's an inescapable part of life. Sometimes it's as simple as worrying about an upcoming test or presentation, and other times it involves long-term doubts and fears about situations that are out of your hands. Dealing with stress isn't fun, but it doesn't have to be debilitating, either. Understanding where stress comes from and why it affects you the way that it does will help you better manage your stress response so you can make the most of whatever situation life throws at you.
Countless circumstances can lead to stress: relationship troubles, a bad week at work, holiday planning, a lengthy to-do list, and so on. However, in many of these scenarios, there is a deeper reason why stress is affecting you so much. Read on to learn about some of the most common sources of stress to be aware of and find ways to identify and overcome these underlying feelings of worry and fear.
Your sense of control has a huge effect on your state of mind. Events and circumstances start to feel more overwhelming than ever before when you feel like you don't have control over certain things in your life. Maybe you feel like your boss is micromanaging you, and you don't have room to work in ways that are most productive for you. Maybe you lose sleep thinking about major social issues and other events you can't change.
In circumstances like these, sometimes the only thing you can do is make the best of a bad situation. This process or mindset doesn't mean you accept the stressful situation. It means focusing on the things you can control to regain feelings of agency to improve your circumstances. Even small adjustments can help you forge a more positive mindset that allows you to manage stress more productively.
Responsibility can be exciting, but it can also lead to a lot of pressure—especially if the stakes are high. You don't want to let down those family members, friends, and other people in your life who rely on you. Stress that stems from responsibilities and expectations can be difficult to deal with, but you don't have to handle it alone. After all, you also deserve a support system that you can rely on. Surrounding yourself with loved ones you can talk to about the responsibilities you hold gives you a safe and healthy outlet that lets you positively process your stress.
Change is always hard, but big changes—especially ones that create a lot of uncertainty about the future—can be particularly tough. Moving to a new city, losing a job, and going through a breakup are all common sources of stress that stem from change.
One way to deal with change positively and productively is to preserve certain aspects of your routine to maintain a sense of normalcy. For example, someone who always goes on morning walks through the neighborhood they grew up in might feel like they're losing a vital part of their routine when they move to a new place. But by continuing their walks in their new neighborhood, they can continue to find comfort in their routine and create something positive out of this period of change.