The causes of stress - sometimes called stress causes or 'stressors' - are known to differ from person to person. This suggests that it is not solely the stressor itself that is the cause of stress, but also the way in which a person perceives something, coupled with how they and their mind-body system respond to it.
While 'things' or situations do trigger stress in us, stress itself is a cause of less happiness. So to unlock one's inner happines, we also need to address the matter of stress.
Stressors and perceived stressors
A stressor: Something that is perceived (consciously or unconsciously) by the individual's response mechanisms to be a threat to the individual.
This may be a real threat or it may be an imagined threat (something non-threatening that is interpreted at the time as being a threat).
Example: two friends walking at dusk
Two people are walking down a footpath at dusk. The light of day has already faded and darkness is fast approaching. They both approach a piece of rope lying on the footpath.
One sees that it is a piece rope and continues walking along happily. The other perceives it as a snake, jumps with fright and gives a yell as his heart starts beating faster.
The piece of rope is the stressor to the one individual, but not to the other. The jumping out of the way in fright is the biological response of the one person to what he perceived as danger.
This is what is referred to as the 'fight-or-flight response'. Adrenalin excretion increases rapidly to prepare the body for survival action: either to stay and fight the threat, or to run in flight to get away from the perceived threat.
The two-fold nature of the cause of stress
And so, we see that the real cause of a person's level of stress is two-fold:
- firstly, the way a person perceives something, and
- secondly, based on that perception, how that person's biology responds to what they perceive.
The inability of an individual to respond appropriately to a situation is the real, underlying cause of stress.
Therefore, the real place to look for stress causes, and solutons, is the same place to look for happiness: within the person himself/herself.
Things that trigger stress
Having said that, when one studies people who have felt 'stressed' at one time or another in their lives, or who have actualy suffered from the effects of stress, there is certainly a common thread.
This common thread suggests that certain situations, events and biological conditions appear to be common stress causes for human beings. These are discussed in the pages that follow.
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The Main Cause Of Stress
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