Causes & Effects of Stress

Anything that brings on feelings of stress is called a stressor. Today, we often face many stressors. Read on to find out how stress affects you and how you can gain control.

Your body's response to stress

When you're faced with stress, certain hormones (chemicals in your body) are released. These hormones trigger many changes in your body. For instance, your:

  • Heart may pound
  • Blood pressure may rise
  • Stomach may become tense
  • Muscles may tighten

Stressors may include the following:

  • Adapting to constant, rapid change
  • Worries about your finances and the economy
  • Handling a major life event, such as changing jobs or moving to a new home. Even positive life changes, such as getting married or the birth of a child, often cause stress. More than one of these events may happen at the same time. For instance, we may have to deal with a family illness while changing jobs.
  • Juggling many roles and responsibilities. Many people have more than one role that comes with many responsibilities, including that of spouse or life partner, parent, friend, employee and caregiver for aging parents.
  • Going from one stressful situation to the next without taking time to relax
  • Being overwhelmed by the technology designed to help us. Keeping up with phone calls, e-mails and text messages can be hard to do. Computers and other technology make doing things faster, so we're expected to get more done in the same amount of time.

The long-term effects of stress

If you're often under stress, you need to learn to manage it well. Stress can affect your well-being. Over time, you may show some of these symptoms of being stressed:

  • Physical: Frequent colds or flu, headaches, trouble sleeping, muscle tension, skin problems, trouble with digestion
  • Mental: Poor concentration, forgetfulness, learning problems, frequent negative thoughts, speech problems
  • Emotional: Anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, feelings of helplessness, a lack of purpose, relationship troubles
  • Behavioral: Eating poorly, driving recklessly, abusing alcohol or drugs, being accident prone, showing aggression