Causes of Stress – Identifying your Stressors

When feeling stressed and wound up, identifying what might be the cause of the stress is perhaps the most important thing you can do. This can however be fairly difficult, as you may not always be aware of which causes of stress in your life exists this very moment. It might be easy to chalk up your mood to a work situation, but what if it’s your personal life that’s really bothering you?

The Causes of Stress – Stressors

Different causes of stress are called stressors, and in order for you to identify them properly, you first need to be aware of which potential stressors exists in your life. Some stressors will be easier to control and deal with, where as others may be more fixated and harder to handle, but something capable of coping with, if you know what you’re up against. Stressors could range over a number of categories in your life, such as family life, stress in the workplace, social situations, emotional states, physical stress, illness, environmental factors or side effects of substances. Doubtlessly, these causes of stress can be hard to distinguish from one another at times.

Identifying your Stressors

In order to identify your major stressor, you have to continuously ask yourself – what is really worrying me? Holding up for a minute, and thinking about your life in this sense, can be very beneficial. Try to look at the various categories just mentioned, and think about if each category could be problematic for you right now. If you find the problem to be related to, for instance, work, then you at least you know where the problem is, rather than fumbling in the dark. Even such a simple thing like this, just personally categorizing what might be stressing you out right now, and giving you a sense of control over the problem, can in itself be very relaxing.

A very simple technique to do this is to take some time to just sit, and note down the different areas of your life, such as family life, social life and work life. Think of what potential stressors there might be in each of the categories, write them down and think about how much each of them actually bothers you. Let the process take some time – getting less stressed – shouldn’t be a matter of stress itself. Simply jotting themes down on a piece of paper may however give you some overview and structure, as well as actually taking the time out of your day just for yourself, to think about your life.

In order to get some further insight in to the root of the problem, it could also be good to expand from your own personal view of the situation, and to ask people around you about their opinions or thoughts of what causes of stress might be in your life. They might have picked up on something you’ve missed, or have an easier time seeing in what situations your behaviour change. Something that might be very hard to keep track of by yourself, while in the midst of things.

You can read more about identifying your stressors in the second step of our free online course on stress management, called the Stress Management Blueprint.

Starting a Stress Journal

If you are still having troubles identifying which stressors actually is bothering you, or if there are too many to get a grip of, a good idea might be to start a stress journal. A stress journal is a journal where you continuously keep track of what might be stressing you, day by day. It does not have to be an actual journal or anything advanced at all, just try to keep track of when you are feeling the most stressed, and make a note of it in a calendar or notebook. Be as open as possible, and describe the feeling you’re having at that exact time, and it might lend some clues to what causes of stress that is present in your life.

Try and make a habit of looking through your notes weekly, and you can more easily identify at what times, and in what situations, you start feeling stressed. At this point, it will be easier to adjust, cope or change the situations you dislike, in order to reduce stress and improve your quality of life.