External Causes of Stress

Fact Checked

iComstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Stress is a normal physiological reaction caused by internal or external stimuli. The stress response is a protective mechanism that could save your life or keep you on your toes during a sports challenge or business presentation. Beyond that, it can be damaging to your health. The external causes of stress are sometimes out of your hands. You may need to learn stress management techniques in order to deal with them.

Major Life Changes

iComstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Life changes do not have to be catastrophic to be stressful, according to medical professionals at MayoClinic.com. The loss of a spouse through death or divorce is one of the most stressful events you can experience, but getting married, having a baby or moving into a new home can be stressful as well. Anything that puts pressure on you can create stress.

Financial Problems

iComstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Worrying about how you will pay the rent or car payment can keep you awake at night. Whether the problems result from poor money management or lack of income due to a cut in pay or layoff, the result is the same. Unforeseen expenses such as medical or car-repair bills can ruin the most carefully planned budget and result in high levels of stress.

Problems at Work

iComstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

According to the Business Link website, high workloads with unrealistic deadlines are stress inducers that can make you feel rushed and constantly under pressure. Lack of control over what you are doing can also be stressful. Having to take on a job for which you feel you are not sufficiently trained or experienced is stress-inducing, as is bullying or harassment of any type.


iComstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Environmental stressors are frequently the result of inconsiderate neighbors who play music too loudly or who leave behind a dog that barks until they return. When these things happen at night and you cannot sleep, you will become both tired and stressed. Other factors in the environment can cause stress as well. Too much light coming into your bedroom when you are trying to sleep is stressful. Noises from busy streets, trains or industrial facilities in the neighborhood are stressors as well.

Children and Family

iComstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

HelpGuide.org identifies children and family as external contributors to stress. As much as you love them, your children can cause major amounts of stress. When they are young, their colic or teething may keep you up at night. As they grow older, the problems will change, but they will not go away. You will, naturally, worry about their health, their schoolwork and their social lives. Their teen years will usher in concerns about driving, smoking, drinking and drugs. At the same time, your parents may be experiencing a decline in their health and you will have to become caregiver for them as well as for your own family.