There are zillions (or way more than a lot) of external causes of stress. Despite trying to avoid stress every day, the truth is, we are never going to be stress-free. So, it’s important that we know how to relieve stress quickly … before the overwhelm.
The good thing is, stress is not always associated with something negative. According to Delta Discovery Center, there is also a type of stress that connotes a positive vibe.
This type of stress is called eustress. Eustress is associated with events such as marriage, promotion, adding a newborn to the family, graduation, and meeting new friends.
I have another post about how acute stress (related to eustress) can enhance the immune system.
Distress, on the other hand, is the type of stress that everyone dreads because it is associated with negative events such as death, financial problems, traumatic events, and so on. We tend to focus on distressing situations but the quick stress-relievers will help with distress or eustress.
The American Stress Institute listed the top external sources of stress in the U.S., in 2014 and 2017. Let’s take a look at some of the top external causes of stress:
A 2019 report from BlackRock states that money is the top stressor for Americans. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, those who belong to lower-income households reported higher overall stress compared to those living in higher-income households.
In an interview with APA, Linda Gallo, Ph.D. explains that although financial strain is common to everyone, those who are living in lower-income households may experience more stress across other domains in their lives such as an unhealthy work environment, exposure to toxins, and more stressful community environments. In addition, they have fewer resources to cope with the stresses they face.
This includes the lack of tangible sources like health insurance, a savings account, and a reliable source of transportation. With these key components of a financial safety net missing, stress can continue to escalate and creates an unhealthy cycle.
2. Job pressure
Several studies say that job pressure is one of the major external causes of stress in the U.S. … and over the years, it has continued to escalate.
There are several reasons why we feel pressure in the workplace. Tension from our co-workers that comes with bullying, harassment, and the blame game.
There’s also pressure from the micromanaging boss which leaves us with a lack of control over our work. Conversely, we also feel stressed when our boss has a management style that doesn’t resonate, which makes us feel like we don’t have direction.
Then there’s the workload.
It’s either the pressure of too much work and facing unrealistic deadlines that lead to overwhelm … until you lose the drive to go to work at all. Or, there might be an insufficient workload where you feel like you are undervalued and you begin to question your worth, self-esteem and job security.
In the past few years, we have seen a lot of terrorism or incidents of violence – bombings, mass shootings, and other types of crimes. And whether or not we experienced it first-hand, we tend to develop anxiety.
For example, according to the Center of Injury and Prevention, those who witness school shootings are likely to suffer from symptoms of traumatic stress, and will likely become anxious, depressed, or have general concerns about their safety. Worse, they may even develop chronic psychiatric disorders.
While relationships can be our main source of joy, they can also become one of our main external causes of worry and anxiety if things go haywire.
It’s normal to experience stress in any relationship, whether it be a romantic relationship, a family relationship, or any other type of relationship. However, there are times that stress can become too much.
Most relationship stress comes from misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, and excessive demands. Or, when the other party can’t or won’t deliver on a commitment. The lack of communication between both parties often makes things worse, and if not resolved, will result in even more stress for both parties.
The result of stress in relationships can lead to worst-case scenarios such as physical abuse, affairs, and divorce … compounding the severity of the external causes of stress!
5. Media Overload
Long gone are the days where the words “you’ve got mail” brought a smile to our faces. While it’s amazing to live in an age where we can learn what’s happening on the other side of the world, real-time, the accompanying information overload is also a top cause of external stress.
Social media is a significant invention that has paved the way for us to easily communicate with people no matter where they are located. However, did you know that there’s also a thing called media overload? This is currently one of the main external causes of stress in the U.S.
According to research done by ESRI-UK, a lot of people have become stressed because they are expected to consume, make sense of, and act on an increasing amount of digital information in their daily lives. This digital information includes emails, social media posts, videos, and phone conversations.
A Forbes article explains that stress is actually appealing because the human brain thrives on novelty and is driven to constantly seek it. Media overload is a case of too much of a good thing!
“When novelty is available in effectively unlimited quantity, the brain becomes overworked as it tries to process this information while driving itself on to search for more. This leads to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to confusion, memory loss and a state of restlessness.”
How to Relieve Stress Quickly
There are a lot of things that you can do if you’re dealing with stress. But first things first, you should focus on yourself.
One of the best things that you can do is exercise. According to Healthline, putting strain on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.
You can also reduce your caffeine intake by removing coffee, chocolate, tea, and energy drinks from your daily diet. Instead, you can take supplements such as Ashwagandha, Kava kava, Valerian, Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and green tea. These are all proven to relieve stress and anxiety.
Writing down your thoughts is another way to relieve worry and anxiety in a quick way. You can write down, in a journal or even on a piece of scratch paper, what’s causing you stress. You’ll be surprised by how quickly this relieves your worries. You may even find that some insight comes through in your writing that changes your perception.
An even better stress-reliever is to list the things you are grateful for. Once you do, all those negative thoughts in your mind will quickly be replaced by positive things.
Another strategy is to have a good laugh. We often hear that laughter is the best medicine. And according to HelpGuide, it is indeed strong medicine.
“Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh,” it says.
“Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.”
Lastly, practice mindfulness. This practice makes you aware and focused on what’s happening at the present moment. And according to studies, it can help you fight anxiety brought about by negative thinking. Mindfulness also helps you regain your self-esteem, which in turn helps lessen symptoms of anxiety and stress.
I have put together a list of ways to practice mindfulness to help you relieve anxiety and stress.
What Else Can You Do to Relieve Stress Quickly?
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and can’t get to the bottom of what is primarily causing stress in your life, there may be toxins that have built up over time that these quick stress-relieving activities simply aren’t a match for. You can identify the toxic burden along with its source with a meridian stress assessment (MSA) or bioenergetic scan.
You can also try to close open loops or unfinished tasks because these are also one of the greatest causes of stress. Click here to read more about closing open loops.