Home > Stress Sign & Sources > Outer Stressors

Outer Stressors

By: Janie Franz - Updated: 9 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Abuse bullying change co-workers

Most of our stress comes from outside sources. It can take the form of people, objects, events and circumstances, the environment, major life changes, and can even be the consequences of our behaviour. Only a few of these Outer Stressors in themselves really produce enough stress to harm us. However, our perceptions of these stressors and our experience of them repeatedly over time can seriously interfere with our being able to cope with them.

People at Work

By far, people head the list of Outer Stressors. Since we can't control anyone else's behaviour, how others interact with us can sometimes be unpredictable and problematic. People we deal with at work usually are sited as being the source of many people's stress. These people include our employers and colleagues. There can be bullying, abuse, or sexual harassment in the workplace. We might not feel safe in these circumstances. There could also be competition among co-workers for our jobs, making us feel like we have little job security. There might also be pressure to achieve coming from our employers. And, there often is that worry that the company may downsize or layoff personnel and thereby we not only lose our jobs but our pensions. Finally, there is the added stressors of other people's demands, causing us to overschedule or rush through tasks or even be late for meetings because we are doing what someone has insisted that we do. In addition, we could be taking on more overtime than we want to do or feel able to do.

People at Home

At home, it may be no better. We can still feel the pressure to succeed, whether from our spouses or from our parents and other family members. There might be financial burdens that keep our spouses pushing us to ask for a raise or to try to find a better paying job. These financial difficulties may have us worried about taxes and creditors calling us, demanding payment. We might be worried about the future because of this situation.

There might also be other problems within the marriage or partnership, such as spousal abuse or marital problems that could even be due to our own levels of stress. We could experience health problems or worry about the health of our children, our spouses, or our aging parents. We could also be dealing with the substance abuse of loved ones or their gambling addiction. We might be concerned about the morality and behaviour of our children. These problems can also cause even more stress as we deal with people within institutions: doctors, lawyers, our children’s teachers, or law enforcement personnel. Finally, we still may be dealing with family members' demands or our obligations to them that can cause us to rush, be late, or to do too much.

People in Society

Other people’s demands can reach us from churches, community organisations, neighbours and tradesmen. We might feel obligated to volunteer when we don't really have the time or we have to attend community meetings. We also may feel the ill will of others in these meetings or committees who don't like our ideas. And, we can also feel the brunt of someone else’s bad humour when we are dealing with shop assistants and other service people.

Even perfect strangers can cause us problems. When we hire skilled labour to help us with household or auto maintenance, we may not be able to get the service person in when we need to or they don't do the job well enough. Or, these people treat us rudely. We also might experience or witness someone else’s road rage while on our commute home or worry about it happening.

In addition, we might be concerned about the moral actions of people in our community, especially those behaviours that might put us in danger. Or, we might be worried about the moral or spiritual decline of our society.

People in Our Leisure

The last are of Outer Stressors involving people deals with our social life. We may have trouble making friends or meeting new people. We feel stress about going out to clubs or to parties where we only know the host or hostess. Then, there is the stress of actually meeting new people, finding out about them, deciding if they are trustworthy. This can be especially stressful if we are recently divorced or have lost a spouse and we are trying to begin to date again.


Inanimate objects can also be Outer Stressors. Often, the main stressors are automobiles, computers, appliances, or office machines. When they don't work properly, we feel frustration and that can lead to stress. If we are dealing with an object, such as a car or computer, that constantly breaks down, this can interfere with our work lives and our personal lives. We then need to think about replacements and that brings its own stresses.

Events and Circumstances

Outer Stressors can come in the form of changed circumstance. We may need to get extra training or education. If we have been away from the classroom for a long time, this kind of change will bring stress. Other kinds of stressors can come in the form of major life change. Negative changes, such as divorce, death of a loved one, death of a pet, having a car repossessed, losing a job, or filing for bankruptcy, naturally bring stress. There is grief mixed with uncertainty about the future. Other changes can be marriage, the birth of a child, a promotion, getting a pet, changing jobs, moving, buying a home, or having a birthday. These are all positive events, but they represent milestones in our lives. With milestones, not only do we think of achievements, we also think of added responsibilities and past failures.

The Environment

Traffic jams, violence in our neighbourhoods, fear of violence at our children’s schools, or violence we see on the television all give us stress. Even the weather can produce stress. Ice storms or snow storms can make our commutes to work difficult. We could live in an area that has severe thunderstorms in the summer or tornadoes or hurricanes. We could begin to feel stress as soon as the calendar turns to the season of storms in our region. We could also worry about air and water pollution or actually be dealing with those issues in our communities. We could be concerned about global warming and its consequences where we live. These are all examples of Outer Stressors that involve the environment.

The Consequences of Our Behaviour

Another Outer Stressor is a derivative of our Inner Stressors. If we are dealing with our own infidelity, substance abuse, gambling, or a shopping addiction, we can experience stress from having to keep the consequences of our actions from our loved ones. We can experience stress when we seek out help from a family member or a professional. Then, we also will experience guilt and added stress when we recognise what our behaviour has done to our own life and the lives of our loved ones.

Global Stressors

Finally, Global Stressors are an extreme example of Outer Stressors. It deals with the environment, politics and a sense of fear throughout the world.

Outer Stressors can be found anywhere in our daily lives. We need to recognise whether our stress is coming from any of these and then craft strategies for managing our stress.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: