Explore the wonderful world of all the things that cause us stress. From school and work to internal and interpersonal stressors, we’ll define what stressors are and the many places they arise from in this lesson.
What Are Stressors?
All of us can stop right now and examine our lives for quite a few things that stress us out. If you’re a student, then you’ll probably have a lopsided list that’s heavy on school-related stuff. If you’re a working professional, then the list will be skewed more towards professional worries.
But there’s more to stress than work and school. Therefore, let’s examine where stress comes from in our lives and the details of how all sorts of stress arises in our day-to-day lives thanks to stressors, factors that cause us stress.
Stress from Work
When I mentioned that you can get a bit stressed at work, that was kind of a general statement. Everyone will have slightly different problems and events that cause us unease. For instance, if you’re a fisherman, then bad weather may cause you quite a bit more anxiety than when going out on a nice day.
If you work in an office, weather may not play the biggest of roles in causing negative feelings about your work. Since our country is filled with office workers, let’s focus in on them to showcase that job stressors are actually divided into many different unique problems, such as:
- Conflict with co-workers, be it professional or personal conflicts
- Heavy workloads
- Short deadlines
- Harsh bosses
- New projects out of the blue
Basically, what I want you to appreciate is that stress from work is a lot more nuanced than just saying to someone, ‘My job is causing me a lot of stress!’
School and Interpersonal Stress
Actually, this same concept applies to other forms of stress from my intro: school-related stress. There’s so much more to it than saying stress causes me to burnout or rip my hair out or chew my nails raw.
School, or going to school, from kindergarten through graduate school, actually has just as many subtleties to its forms as distress from work. As just a few examples:
- There’s test anxiety, performance anxiety that causes distress during an exam, which has led many very intelligent students to do poorly on tests they were actually well-prepared for!
- There’s also speech anxiety, which is even far worse than test anxiety for many. Having to speak your mind in front of a group of people can cause quite a stir upon our mind and body.
- And, of course, there’s the math anxiety, the feeling that someone is incapable of doing well in math-related activities.
But there’s more here than those obvious examples. School may bring about strain to a person in different ways: through interpersonal dimensions, meaning some students get homesick when away at college and others may have the usual relationship problems with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Other students have to work while they study. Being away from loved ones, fighting with a partner, and balancing work with studies all add another layer of stress to an already hectic student life!
Stress from the Environment
This reminds me of something personal.
When I went to get my medical education, I had to move hundreds of miles away from family and friends. I moved to this apartment building that was next to a shipping center. Every morning, without fail, at about 4:30 AM the trucks would start making lots of humongous noise and would rouse me from my sleep, leaving me totally groggy for the rest of the day. Of course, the landlord made no mention of this routine when I was inspecting the premises. I mention this because environmental stressors, light, noise, smells, pollution of all sorts, and temperature, can add misery to an already difficult situation.
To be a little frank with you, the big reason I had to settle on that apartment was because I had procrastinated on finding a place to live near the medical school I was to attend.
Procrastination, the tendency to put things off until a later time, increases stress. Procrastination is a type of internal stressor, something that’s generated within ourselves. Other examples of internal stressors are:
- Perfectionism: the desire to perform or complete things with no room for mistakes
- Expecting too much from ourselves in a short space of time
This type of strain you place upon yourself can sometimes be extreme. As another personal example, I had played classical piano competitively for many years. I remember having to perform in front of over a hundred people during one particular concert. I got so stressed out at demanding perfection from myself, coupled with performing in front of a crowd, that my stomach hurt so much after the performance I had to curl up in a ball for several hours!So to avoid the misery any type of stress can bring upon our body, I encourage you to watch the video on Coping With Stress after this lesson, as well as Health Risks Associated With Chronic Stress, to learn more about what stress does to your body besides forcing you to curl up like a pill bug.
Funny enough, I’m sure pill bugs curl up like that due to their own personal stressors, factors that cause us stress.
Humans have plenty of these things. We can get stressed at work due to conflicts with co-workers or short deadlines. We may suffer from test anxiety, performance anxiety that causes distress during an exam, or math anxiety, the feeling that someone is incapable of doing well in math-related activities, when we attend school.And, like pill bugs, we also endure environmental stressors, light, noise, smells, pollution of all sorts, and temperature.
Internal stressors, those that we place upon our own mind and body, also make our lives more difficult than they already are. These types of stressors include procrastination, the tendency to put things off until a later time, and perfectionism, the desire to perform or complete things with no room for mistakes.
By the end of this lesson you should be able to:
- Define stressors
- Give examples of some job stressors
- Discuss types of anxiety related to school
- Explain what environmental and internal stressors are