Causes of Stress
The causes of stress are known as stressors and there are literally hundreds of different types of stressors. Any event in life that a person finds threatening, difficult to cope with or causes excess pressure can be a potential cause of stress. It is important to bear in mind that stress is an individualistic, subjective experience and therefore what one person finds stressful another may not. Stressors can be broken down roughly into either external or internal (or a mixture of both.)
External Stressors are those situations, which are not in your control. It s known that the longer a stressor continues, then the more likely it is to cause stress and that the individuals perception of an event is the key to whether they will find a situation stressful or not. For example, if a person is happy living in their house, they’ve lived there for a number of years, have developed close friends in the area and do not want to move but are forced to move because their home is being repossessed, then they are going to find the event of moving infinitely far more stressful than a person who has lived in their home for a short time, next to a very noisy, difficult neighbour and who wants to move to get away from the noise.
The majority of causes of stress that we face on a day-to-day basis are not as extreme as life events. The day-to-day causes of stress are called daily hassles; they are those daily, minor irritations such as misplacing our car keys, traffic jams, minor arguments with family/colleagues, etc. Research by Lazarus and Folkman (1984), at the University of California, indicated that it was the daily hassles rather than the major life events that affected us the most. Life events do not occur every day, but daily hassles do; it’s the constant, daily frustration caused by these hassles that cause us the most stress, because they occur so regularly and therefore can undermine our health.
We tend to think that stress is solely caused by external events, situations and people, yet this is not strictly correct. Research has found that the Transactional Model of Stress is more accurate. This model says that stress is caused by a transaction, i.e. there is an interaction between the stressor, our view of the stressor and our perceived ability to cope with it. It’s our own internal beliefs, attitudes, interpretations, perceptions and other factors, in combination with the external events that tend to create stress. Internal factors which influence how we perceive stress include our:
Beliefs, Perception, Expectations, Perfectionsim, Low self esteem, People pleasing personality, Low assertion and Locus of control.