Identifying Causes of Stress

Woman talking to therapist.

Things that cause stress are called stressors. They can be everyday events, major life changes, or a combination of things. They can be either happy or sad events. Knowing your stressors will help you find ways to manage your stress.

Minor hassles

Daily life is filled with little annoyances. Spilled milk, lost keys, missed phone calls. These are rarely earth-shattering events. But the stress they cause can build up over time. Minor hassles also seem more painful if you're under long-term stress.

Major changes

A move, a divorce, or the loss of a loved one are major changes. They require you to adapt to a new lifestyle. You may fear an unknown future or worry about whether you'll be able to cope. Even positive events, like getting married or having a baby, can cause major stress.

Stress overload

Being pulled in many directions can be exhausting—especially when you're juggling work and family. Working late, taking kids to soccer, paying bills, and buying groceries may feel completely overwhelming. For a time, life can seem totally out of control.

Feeling helpless

Feeling helpless is a sign of long-term stress. You may feel like you have no control over your life. Even a faraway disaster told on the evening news may seem like part of your own troubles. Over time, these feelings may lead to depression. If you feel "down" for weeks, talk with your healthcare provider or a counselor. Depression can be treated.