The phone is ringing off the hook; you’re 45 minutes late for a deadline, and your boss is knocking on your door asking to see how your newest proposal is going. To say the least, you’re stressed. But fortunately for you, these are all examples of acute stress. They are short term, won’t last longer than your work day, and may actually benefit your health.
However, if your life feels like that every day of the week, you may be experiencing long-term or chronic stress. This type of stress can be dangerous to your health if you do not work to overcome it or don’t figure out healthier ways to cope with the effects it has on you.
Big stressors tend to include financial troubles, job issues, relationship conflicts, and major life changes such as the loss of a loved one. Smaller stressors such as long daily commutes, rushed morning routines, and personal conflicts with colleagues can add up and can be just as bad for your health as chronic stress.
Some of the most common sources of stress are:
Aging, diagnosis of a new disease, complications from an existing disease, and undiagnosed symptoms can increase stress.
Arguments with a spouse, parent, or child can certainly increase stress. Problems among other members of the family, even if you’re not directly involved, can cause additional stress.
Feeling unable to relate to someone or needing to express emotions but not being able to can weigh you down with additional stress.
The death of a loved one, changing jobs, moving houses, and sending a child off to college are examples of big life changes that can be stressful.
Financial trouble is a common source of stress. Credit card debt, not making rent, inability to provide for a family—not being able to make ends meet can put a serious amount of stress on a person.
Arguments about personal, religious, or political beliefs can challenge you, leading to increased stress especially in situations where you can’t remove yourself from the conflict.
Research has shown that pressure and conflict from a job can be a main source of stress for many people.
Feeling discriminated against—because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, for example—can cause long-term stress.
Unsafe neighborhoods, crime-ridden cities, and worry over personal safety may lead to chronic stress.
People who have suffered a traumatic event or life-threatening situation such as robbery or rape, a natural disaster, or war often live with long-term stress. In many cases, they are actually suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.