Everyone experiences stress. In fact, about 33% of people report feeling extreme stress in their everyday lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused stress statistics to skyrocket over the last two years, and the uncertainty our world seems to face on a regular basis doesn’t help matters, either.
But, those “stress triggers” are easily recognizable. They are problems most of us share and understand. There are many other obvious stressors in everyday life that are easy to recognize, too. But, what about the stressors that are more subtle?
They could be doing more damage than you realize.
Stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body, causing problems like increased sensitivity to pain, exhaustion, and even anxiety or depression. Recognizing some of the unexpected sources of stress in your life will make it easier to manage them quickly. Let’s talk about some of those lesser-known sources and what you can do about them.
Major life changes are almost always a source of stress – even if they’re positive. Examples of these big changes include:
- Getting married
- Getting divorced
- Receiving a promotion
- Taking on a new job
Another big life change is moving, and it’s one of the most stressful ones. One survey discovered that 45% of people believe moving is the most stressful life event there is – more than getting divorced or having kids!
When you think about it, it’s easy to see why the process of moving is so stressful. From packing up your belongings to dealing with financial stress, it’s a lot of time, preparation, and maybe even some second-guessing. You also have to find a new place to live, which is an added stressor. If it’s in a new community, you might be worried about fitting in, or how your kids will do in a new school. Moving away from family and friends can also make you feel like you’re losing your support system.
One of the best things you can do to help yourself through the moving process is to take the time to adjust to a new place. Keep the following in mind as you try to make it work:
- Stay active
- Keep your normal routine
- Make socialization a priority
- Try new things
The more you can immerse yourself in a new place, the less stressed you’ll be, and the overwhelming stress that came with the move itself will start to fade away.
Having a pet in your life is actually a great way to reduce stress. Something as simple as petting a dog can alleviate stress and boost your mood. For many pet owners, however, their four-legged friends become integral parts of the family.
While that’s a good thing, it also makes it harder when that pet gets sick, injured, or older. It’s never easy to see a family member struggling – including the furry ones. Even if your pet is healthy now, you might find yourself worried about them getting older or facing ailments as they age.
Keeping your pet active and as healthy as possible is a great way to ward off those worries. It can also be beneficial to invest in pet insurance. Doing so will prepare you for any unexpected veterinarian bills that your furry friend might have in the future. So, you won’t have to worry about added financial stress if your pet gets sick.
The best advice? Enjoy your pet now, and let their natural stress-reducing properties calm your nerves from all of the “what ifs” of the future.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep and stress are more linked than most people realize. So much so, that they almost work together in a cyclical fashion. The less sleep you get, the more stressed you’ll likely be. The more stressed you are, the less sleep you’ll get.
Unfortunately, this can cause a variety of issues, including:
- High blood pressure
- Impaired immunity
- Slow thinking
- Worsened memory
- Increased risk of heart disease
If you have sources of stress in your life that are going unchecked, they might even lead to stress dreams that can impact your quality of sleep. Dreams mean different things for everyone, but some of the most common stress dreams include things like losing teeth, heights, drowning, and embarrassment. These dreams are usually due to underlying issues in your life. Maybe you’re nervous about an upcoming event. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you’ve lost your sense of self.
If you’re not sleeping well due to stress, one of the best things you can do is to talk to a mental health professional. They can help you get to the bottom of your sleep issues and what might be causing them. Additionally, you can practice healthier sleep habits by developing a nighttime routine that prepares your mind and body for rest.
While living a stress-free life might seem impossible, it’s doesn’t have to be challenging to alleviate major stressors in your life. The first step is recognizing what they are and how they’re affecting you. Step back and think about some of the unexpected sources of stress in your own life, so you can take action and alleviate them as soon as possible.