Origins of Stress
Stress can often originate from sources we hardly ever associate with it. Let me
Imagine that you just bought your dream car. It is that Jaguar. You had to scrape
everything you had to buy it. You wanted to take it for a spin. It is a sunny spring day.
You turned the stereo on, the top down and cruise merrily on the interstate. Isnt
You suddenly hear screeching noises in front. On no! The drivers in front of you are
all slamming on their brakes. You see that each car is coming within split seconds of rear
ending the one in front.
Within seconds the stress of the situation enters your mind through your eyes and ears.
Your mind or brain immediately takes over (Before you can even say Oh No! Not my new car!)
The middle and lower part of your brain electrically triggers a massive fight or flight
Your legs slam on the brake. You grip the steering wheel and try to straighten it. Your
body dumps sugars and fats into your bloodstream for quick energy and strength. Other chemicals released by the brain
prepare your blood to clot more quickly, to reduce the possible blood loss in case of an
anticipated accident. You feel your heart pounding in your chest and temples. Your brain
is receiving more oxygen to sharpen your senses and coordination.
The loud screeches around you havent stopped yet. In your rearview mirror, you
see a car approaching your car fast. You know the driver wont be able to stop the
car in time to avoid hitting your vehicle. You go through a sudden anxiety and helpless
feeling. You cannot do anything about it. Your brain sends more chemicals to your
bloodstream. These chemicals help you to keep alert for an extended period of time.
Finally it all stopped. Thank God, you have escaped with minor injuries. But your brand
new Jaguar is totaled!
What you had just undergone is how stress works and how we cope with it. This is an
example of a stress that was triggered by events or stimuli from outside your body. Other
examples of stress that results from outside events are job related stress (such as when
your boss gives you unreasonable jobs, working with unreasonable customers), relationship
induced stress (such as marital problems, death of a spouse, divorce), money problems
(such as when all bills come due in January and you dont have money to pay for it),
In the example cited above, when you think of the accident, you get stressed. Some
people get a stress attack when they drive near the spot of the accident. This type of
stress is called mind stressor. The origin of the stress, in this case, is within you.
You go home finally. You are so upset you cannot sleep. Your muscles are very tense.
Now you start worrying about your inability to sleep or about you body aches and pains.
This creates more stress. See how this is triggering a domino effect. If you dont do
something about it soon enough you can die.
Stress can also originate from emotional and psychological causes. For example,
thinking of such an accident or a pending IRS audit will make people anxious; many find it
difficult to sleep. Then they worry about not getting enough sleep and how they will go to
work without sleep. And so on. One stressful event leads to another and, if we don't
control it, the domino effect kicks in.
Even joyous events, such as a wedding, a job promotion, buying a new home, or the birth
of a child, can cause much stress. You also might get stressed out if you cannot achieve a
particular goal or satisfy a certain wish. For instance, you may want very much to have a
child but cannot conceive. Fertility tests can't elucidate any reasons for this, and you
feel very frustrated-why is this happening to you? Certainly this is a very emotional
issue-and one that you do not have much control over-that can cause much stress in your
Stress also exists in tandem with the pressure you feel when you perceive that negative
consequences are attached to your actions. For instance, you might feel pressured to
maintain a certain level of performance at work or else risk getting fired. If you find
yourself thinking in this way, you should stop and consider whether the threat is real or
if you are just being too hard on yourself. You might be able to control and even
eliminate this kind of stress from your life.
Stress also stems from conflict, which is not always negative, For instance, a conflict
could occur in having to choose between two positive goals of equal value, such as
choosing between two excellent job offers. Or your conflict could involve a choice that
has both a positive and negative outcome, such as you're getting married but it
necessitates your moving across the country away from family and friends.
Numerous life events-such as: the death of a family member or friend, the loss of a job,
buying a house or moving, and having a child, cause stress. Thomas Holmes and Richard
developed a list of major life stressors. These are listed in descending order below,
beginning with the most stressful event: