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Sources of Stress

By: Janie Franz - Updated: 3 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
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Our stress can come from many sources. These sources are called stressors. They can be found in all areas of our lives. Stressors can come from outside sources internal perceptions, health and biology, major life changes, world concerns, new experiences, and even happy events.

Outside Stressors

Stressors can be events, people, the environment, or even objects. Having a car not start or getting an important document stuck in the feeder of a copy machine can all produce anxiety and more stress. We worry about being late for work or picking up children when the car won't start. Or, we worry about having to redo work when a document is damaged in the copy machine. When we are already stressful, these object stressors can make us explode.

Object stressors are just one kind of Outside Stressor that we experience. Others include work demands, employers, teachers, spouses, friends and their problems or demands, finances, and environmental concerns. Outside stressors can also include the consequences of our internal stressors. For example, behaviour such as smoking or gambling, though internally based, can produce results such as poor health or financial difficulties that can affect our work lives and those around us. Other people and institutions (banks, the medical profession, or employers) can then make more demands on us, compounding our stress.

Environmental Stressors, another Outside Stressor, can take the form of bad weather, pollution, or the work environment. It can even involve rush hour traffic or living in an area that isn't safe.

Major life changes are a part of Outside Stressors. These can even be happy events like marriage or the birth of a child. Even moving or getting a promotion, though positive events, also come with added responsibilities and therefore more stress.

Finally, Global Stressors, a major type of Outside Stressor, is a factor of the age we live in. All over the world, people are concerned about terrorism and violence. They worry about loved ones in war zones. They worry about natural disasters. They worry about politics. All of these stressors produce stress.

Internal Stressors

Internal Stressors range from our perceptions, our health, to even our own biology. These stressors can also include risky behaviours. Perceptions that produce stress may be shaped from what we think others expect of us or think about us, as well as what we think of ourselves. Internal Stressors derived from biology can be the onset of puberty, pregnancy, or even aging.


Change is one of the most powerful Outside or Inside Stressors. It affects us when it is present and sometimes even when it is not. We can feel stress when we are in a routine, stuck in a job we don't like, or waiting for an opportunity to come. We may be impatient with ourselves when internal change isn’t happening or not happening fast enough. Change can then be a relief to us, relieving one kind of stress, even though it will bring its own new set of stressors.

Knowing what our stressors are can help us manage our stress. There are some things that we can change, but some things we can't. It is important to accept this and develop new skills to cope with them.

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