You Can Beat Stress
Stress Causes

Stress Causes

The very fact that we all react differently to different situations means that practically anything can cause stress and it can be triggered in different ways. Some people are more prone to stress than others, however stress causes can be categorized into the following general areas:

  • Financial worries
  • Health issues - injury, illness or pregnancy
  • Victim of Crime
  • Job issues - new job, extra working hours
  • Relationships - with spouse, family, friends, co-workers
  • Bereavement
  • Family problems - separation, divorce
  • Moving or buying a house
  • Physical changes - lack of sleep, new work hours

You can probably find many other areas in life which can cause stress.

Work Stress Causes

The UK's Health and Safety Executive lists six key stress factors:

  1. The demands of the job
  2. The control staff have over how they do their work
  3. The support they receive from colleagues and superiors
  4. Their relationships with colleagues
  5. Whether they understand their roles and responsibilities
  6. How far the company consults staff over workplace changes.

Learning to spot the signs of stress in yourself and others is very important, as early intervention can help to reduce the symptoms of stress later on.

Some common indicators of workplace stress include the following.

  • Sickness absence
  • High staff turnover
  • Poor communication between teams
  • Bullying
  • Lack of feedback on performance
  • Value and contribution
  • Technological change
  • Lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities
  • Dissatisfaction with non-monetary benefits
  • Working long hours
  • Boring and mundane work
  • One-off incidents
  • Uncomfortable workplace
  • Lack of training

Some people can still feel stressed despite there being no obvious stress causes.

Stress affects us all. If you can spot the symptoms, you can manage them.

General Stress Causes

Some general causes of stress can include the following:


A perceived threat will lead a person to feel stressed. This can include physical threats, social threats, financial threat, and so on. In particular it will be worse when the person feels they have no response that can reduce the threat, as this affects the need for a sense of control.

Generally speaking, any threat to needs is likely to lead to stress being experienced.


Threats can lead to fear, which again leads to stress. Fear leads to imagined outcomes, which are the real source of stress.


When we are not certain, we are unable to predict, and hence feel we are not in control, and hence may feel fear or feel threatened by that which is causing the uncertainty.

Cognitive Dissonance

When there is a gap between what we do and what we think, then we experience cognitive dissonance, which is felt as stress. Thus, if I think I am a nice person then do something that hurts someone else, I will experience dissonance and stress.

Dissonance also occurs when we cannot meet our commitments. We believe we are honest and committed, but when circumstances prevent us from meeting our promises we are faced with the possibility of being perceived as dishonest or incapable (ie. a social threat).

If you feel there are other stress causes which you would like to share with us, please contact us here.

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