What causes stress? 7 psychological factors that affects stress

Are you sometimes curious about why you are stressed? Would you like to learn more about what causes stress, and what you can do to change it? Here, we’re going to briefly address some of these causes individually, and the role the mind plays in all of this.

When it comes to stress, mind and body are very deeply interconnected. The demands you face, and recognize mentally, can manifest physically, as well as a physical situation can affect your focus and mental state. The brain and body aren’t separate units, but work together for you to function. This can make stress largely dependent on the way you perceive the world. In this article, we’re going to tell you about 7 very direct ways of how psychological factors influence your stress levels. The goal is for you to be able to use this information to your advantage, and find ways to mentally cope with the stress in your life. It is important to figure out what causes stress, before you can handle it, so we set out to clarify the effects here, in order for you to help apply them to your life. Sounds good? Let’s get started!

You never know what causes stress in the future, but
the important thing is that you are prepared for it.

1. Feeling of control

When it comes to what causes stress, a huge factor is the feeling, or lack of feeling, of being in control. We all need control, not only to be able to handle things in our every day lives, but also in order to feel like we can handle them. That sensation, the feeling itself, is almost as important as actually having the control, as it calms you down, changes your outlook on life, and de-stresses you. The benefit of knowing that a lack of control can really stress you out, is that you then know what to strive for if you feel overwhelmed. If you can, try to take control of a stressful situation in any way you find possible. It doesn’t have to deal with the actual problem of what causes stress, it can be taking charge through dealing with your own emotions, or just finding a way to get on top of things. However, the important thing is that you perceive that you have some influence in the situation, and that it is not all hopeless. It rarely is.

2. Predictive information

Predictive information sure can sound like a mouthful when it comes to what causes stress. But what really is implied by this, is that you know what you have coming in the future. If you are prepared, mentally for what is to come, what stressors might be up ahead, and what challenges you might endure, then they will become far more manageable than if you were to be thrown in a strange situation. The sheer insecurity of not having clear information about the future, can itself become a stressor, and cause rumination, worry and anxiety. People are very adaptable, and if you know that you’re facing a challenge every day for the next week, you set your mind to deal with that challenge. However, if the challenge might occur randomly, it can become a lot harder. A good example of this, is public speaking. If you get the opportunity to do it regularly, you soon adjust to it, and the element of worry becomes decreased as you get more comfortable speaking. If it is a rare occasion however, it becomes a much bigger deal for you mentally, and you might worry more about it. In this respect, predictive information, and getting prepared for the future, can really be a big part of what causes stress in the individual.

Try to get as much information as possible about potential stressors on the horizon.

3. Getting relevant feedback

Not getting relevant feedback, whether it regards work, or from your peers, can really be stressful. Not only do we need to know that what we are doing is worthwhile, meaningful and productive, but also having a clear lack of information might make you second guess your own judgement, or the entire point of doing things. So when it comes to what causes stress, particularly so in a work environment, not having any proper feedback can be a major issue. There is perhaps not much you as an individual can do to change this fact, as the feedback comes from an external source. However, informing people about this, and that you would appreciate some feedback once in a while, might make the experience more enjoyable for the both of you. And remember – you can make a huge different in someone else life, through simply giving them some feedback now and then. Stress can be very infectious, so paying it forward, might be doing the both of you a favour in the long run.

4. Interpreting stressors “the wrong way”

When you’re stressed it’s easy to get very flustered and almost enter a mode of tunnel-vision, where nothing else exists but the problem at hand. This is a quite natural reaction the body facilitates in order to cope with the problem immediately. The problem with this, however, is that it can lead you in to quite a destructive and fixated mode of thinking. Realizing what stressors you have, and what the consequences of them might be, is of course a very good thing, and necessary in order to deal with the problem. But what causes stress about this, is if you invariably interpret the outcome of the stressor as negative. If you feel that the only possible outcome is disaster, and that there is nothing you can do about it, then this in itself will become an additional stressful factor. For this reason, it is important to deal with the problems of what causes stress in a mental way, as well as a practical one. It is in a way related to establishing control, even if it is only over one aspect of the problem, it will help your entire outlook and make a hopeless situation, seem a little less hopeless. For more reading on emotional coping and how to handle stressors, read this article about coping with stress.

5. No social support

What causes stress is also the lack of social support. Social support is extremely important, not only for getting help and other people’s perspectives on the problem, but also for the feeling of not being left alone, that you actually belong somewhere and have people to lean on when times get rough. What naturally follows, if you lack this dimension, could be an increased level of stress, as you feel like you have to deal with it all by yourself and alone. To try to reduce the problems caused by this, it is always good to find someone you can talk to about your problems. They don’t have to be holding any solutions, sometimes just having someone listen is good enough. Talking about your problems and what causes stress is never a bad thing, and you should feel like this is something you can do. You can read more about social support in this article about coping mechanisms.

Having a social outlet is important when dealing with stress.

6. Having few outlets of frustration

Few outlets of frustration, when it comes to the stressor, is quite similar to the dimension of social support when it comes to what causes stress. Reasonably, one of the reasons for having someone to talk to about your stress is also that you get to vent your problems to them. It has a mild therapeutic effect to be able to get things off your chest, and just have someone listen to the problems and supporting you. The difference, however, between these two points, is that this one does not necessarily have to be of a social nature. It can be something as simple as feeling you can vent your frustrations about a poor situation at work, through a suggestion box, or that you can issue your complaints to an organization or agency you feel is stressing you. The important part is that the ventilation is related to what causes stress itself, so you get to talk about the stressor that is bothering you. It should also, preferably, be conducted in a constructive manner, as just focusing on too much of the negative parts of a stressful situation, actually can increase the stress caused. So try to find a way to vent what causes stress for you, and try to focus on a positive approach. There’s no reason to keep it all bottled up inside.

Having outlets of frustration is important.

7. New situations

New situations can definitely be a big cause of stress. What causes stress in new situations is fairly obvious, the fact that you don’t have the experience to draw on, or necessarily know what to do. This as well, is related to the previously mentioned insecurity, which can cause you some worry, if too big. Naturally, dealing with new situations can be very difficult, and there’s not much one can do to avoid them. Nor should a person try to avoid new things, as they might be positive just as often as they can be negative. We need novel situations in our lives, and the solution, to reduce stress, is not to remove the situation itself, but instead learning how to cope with them. If what causes stress is the anxiety from insecurity, then perhaps a good thing is to address this problem head on, and create some security even in the new situation. You might not bear influence on the situation, but you always have influence of yourself. To use a constructive mindset, such as seeing opportunities, not problems, and believing in your own capability to handle things, is a good start. Furthermore, preparing for new situations through the points mentioned above, like finding a way to issue control, having support from your environment, and using a positive outlook – can really help you deal with most problems up ahead.

So what’s the take home message, what causes stress?

These mentioned points illustrate a picture of psychological aspects that affect what causes stress, and how your mind treats problems and stressors. What you can use this for, is trying to address each point individually, and find your own way of reducing the stress you feel. The best part about this, is that is mostly about outlook and the mind, which gives you great opportunities to change these things without making major practical changes to your life. The mind’s capability to deal with stress should never be disregarded, and you can actually by quite simple means reduce your stress levels just by changing the way you think. If you’d like to learn more about this, there are some excellent other articles about coping on this page. If you want to learn more about what stress actually is, read this article. If you’re more interested in stress management techniques, read this one. But to summarize, here are some quick and practical things to think about, in order to reduce what causes stress in your life.

  • Try to find a way to get control over a situation, when you’re stressed.

  • Get as much information as possible, in order to prepare for what is coming.

  • Try to get people to give you feedback, if you feel like you could benefit from it.

  • Try to think of stressors in a constructive manner, don’t let catastrophic thinking get to you!

  • Find good people to talk to about your problems, there is no shame in getting support from others.

  • Find a constructive way to vent your frustrations, if they occur. Make sure to speak your mind, don’t let things be bottled up inside.

  • Try to look at new situations as fun, and challenging. Don’t see the problems, see the opportunities to grow!

So take charge of your mind, don’t let your mind take charge of you. When it comes to what causes stress, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the worst onset of a stressor. With some practice and patience, hopefully, you can learn to manage these things quite well, and lay the foundation for a more constructive outlook on stress in your life.