Everyone, no matter the age or gender, experiences stress at some point in their life. Stress is usually looked upon as being negative, but a small amount of it is harmless and can even be helpful.
Stress “is a normal response to situations that challenge us or in which we may feel threatened”, explains Dr. Virginia Chow, psychologist. Stress can then help a person push through their boundaries in difficult situations, or warn them about a potential danger. Instead of trying to eliminate stress completely, a person can use stress to his or her advantage in many circumstances.
Various factors can lead to feeling strained. Work is by far the biggest source of stress. Many professionals are dealing with heavy workloads, long hours, dissatisfaction with their job or even harassment from coworkers. This “has escalated progressively over the past few decades”, according to The American Institute of Stress. The work place can be a nerve-racking environment, especially in today’s fast-paced society.
Other causes of stress include life events such as death, divorce, or moving to a new home. General stress caused by overthinking and worrying is also common. Students deal with a lot of pressure as well, especially during the dreaded exam periods and mid-semesters.
Millennials are the most stressed generation, according to the Stress in America survey done last year by the American Psychological Association. Among them, 36% answered “yes” when asked whether or not their stress level had risen during the past year.
This age group is often faced with challenges regarding their finance or work, and may have difficulty adjusting. Is it important to “become aware of our threshold for stress by understanding what our limits are”, says Dr. Chow. What is too stressful for someone may not be as stressful for someone else; everyone copes with stress differently. In order to avoid feeling completely overwhelmed, a person can look at what makes him or her reach their limit, thus making it easier to handle stress effectively.
After examining the limits of stress that they can handle, people can examine the different aspects of their lives and see which ones cause the most stress. “Once we become aware of the source of stress, we can then focus on what to change”, continues Dr. Chow. By getting a grip on these sources of stress, someone will stabilize their symptoms and gain some peace of mind.
Originally published November 2013. Updated July 2016.