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Published: June 8, 2024

Top Seven Causes of Stress and Their Effects on Health

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Stress is an inevitable part of life – it has been around long before technology and our modern worries. But while some temporary stress is normal as various circumstances arise, experiencing stress as a never-ending part of your daily routine is harmful to both your physical and mental well-being.

Be patient with yourself; busting stress takes time. The act of bringing awareness to your common stressors and creating a plan to address them will empower you to control your stress so it doesn’t control you! Below are some of the top situations that cause stress and how to manage them.

1. Money

Money is the number one cause of stress in most people’s lives. This is no surprise, since money directly relates to our basic necessities for survival, and to our ability to live with freedom and comfort. But if money is tight, worrying about it doesn’t help. In fact, stress can make the problem worse by causing fatigue, headaches, and thwarting creative thinking.

To help reduce money woes, it’s important to step back and create a financial plan that works for you. Maybe that involves meeting with a financial planner, defining and cutting unnecessary costs, or even investing in training to strengthen your future job prospects. Take the time to assess your monthly budget, make some decisions on what can change, and then stick with a plan that will lead to greater abundance over time.

2. Work and Career

Work is another common stressor. We’re not always fortunate enough to have jobs that we love, with amazing co-workers and a great salary, but you do have more control than you think. It’s important to narrow down what specifically is causing you stress at your workplace. Is the work itself not fulfilling? A harsh management style? Lack of support? Unclear expectations? Or something else?

Once you determine the problem, it becomes easier to make a conscious effort to address that particular issue through honest and respectful dialogue, or seeking a new position that might be a better fit. Making small changes at work, like taking an afternoon walk or buying a plant for your desk, go a long way. It’s important to find a way to love the work you do, especially if you can’t do the work you love immediately. Overall, your job should make you feel happy and healthy!

3. Family

Relationships, whether with our partners, friends, or family, can become stressful when disagreements occur. One surprising way to alleviate stress when difficult situations arise is to change your reaction into a response. “Reacting” is an automatic, emotional, knee-jerk action, while “responding” is a slower, more thoughtful, and solution-oriented action. After a disagreement, take a moment to consider your response to the issue before you continue the discussion. Before entering possibly stressful situations, try a short breathing exercise or meditation that can greatly impact your emotional responses in a positive way.

4. Health

Health challenges can be incredibly stressful for a variety of reasons. They can require time off from work, difficult decisions about treatment or medication, changes in diet or habits, not feeling well enough to enjoy life, and navigating complex healthcare and insurance systems. It’s tough. But you can control how stressed out you allow yourself to become about these things.

You may not be able to change your body, but you can change your thoughts, which will have a direct impact on both your physical and mental health. Feeling like you have a sense of control is a saving grace in a health crisisBy empowering yourself with information, a treatment plan, being surrounded by positive and competent professionals, and doing what you can do to stay calm, you can take gradual steps towards regaining your health. You know your body best – be kind to yourself and stand up for yourself – it’s important to listen to your body and be your own health advocate when experiencing stressful health challenges.

5. Current Events

Tuning into the news and keeping up with current events can be overwhelming and lead to stressA common phenomenon now is doomscrolling, or constantly opening up social media and news outlets to read all about the tragedies happening across the world. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative stories. Try limiting your news consumption to certain times of day rather than clicking on everything you see on social media. You can also balance your time viewing traditional news sites with sites dedicated to positive stories like the Good News Network to regain hope and optimism.

6. Parenting

Even before Covid-19, being a parent involved becoming a jack of all trades – tutor, chauffer, babysitter, therapist, healthcare advocate, personal chef, the list goes on. Juggling the responsibilities of parenthood with a career, relationships, your own health and well-being, finances, and everything else can lead to seriously high levels of stress.

It’s important to remember that every other parent struggles with the balancing act as well. Talking to other parents, your child’s pediatrician, your own doctor, or even a mental health professional are all steps you can take as a parent to help lower stress levels. Happier parents lead to happier kids, too.

7. Sleep

Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, but over 35% of adults in the United States report sleeping fewer than seven hours per night on average. Sleep allows your body and mind to recharge, and without sleep, the way that nerve cells communicate with each other to perform functions like breathing and keeping your heart beating can be disrupted.

Setting yourself up for success at bed time is the first step you can take to getting better sleep. Shutting off phones and computers, meditation, journaling, and using aromatherapy before getting ready for bed can all help with stress reduction and promote better sleep.

Effects of Stress on Your Health

While your body has a natural ability to deal with stress in the short term, extended periods of stress can wreak havoc on your entire body. Symptoms of prolonged stress can present both physically and mentally.

Physical symptoms of stress can include:

  • Tense muscles
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Frequent urination
  • Stomachache
  • Headache

Mental/emotional symptoms of stress can present as:

  • Mood swings
  • Problems with concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Shortened temper 

How to Destress

Even though it’s easy to find yourself stressing out about life, it’s just as easy to de-stress yourself, no matter what the cause.

Focus on your breath

Breathing exercises can help lower your heart rate and is something you can do anywhere, in any situation.


Beginning a meditation practice is easier than many people may think. It doesn’t have to be guided or with other people – just finding time to dedicate to yourself can help reduce stress.

Move your body

Exercise is a great stress relief. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, and lowers the levels of your body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Endorphins are often called the ‘happy hormones,’ because their levels increase during things like exercise, sleep, and physical affection.

The bottom line

Stress can creep into our lives in many ways, but we can actively take steps to minimize it. Once we are able to successfully manage our emotional responses to stressful situations, it becomes easier for us to develop action plans for moving forward, which is key in maintaining our overall well-being.


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