I’ve been more anxious and stressed recently than I usually am. So I asked myself ‘What causes this stress and what can I do about it?’
It’s always smarter to get to the core of the problem so that we can find a proper solution. In this case, that’s the stuff that causes stress in every area of life.
Such stressors are usually a result of a big change going on, be it in your surroundings (like starting a new job or moving to a new place), a painful event (breakup, loss of a loved one), or something due to money or health problems. It may be an emotional issue too. But that wasn’t the case in my situation.
I knew something was causing stress because I felt more pressure when doing the things I usually do. There was anxiety involved, unnecessary worries, overthinking, nervousness and anger.
For some, all this is natural and an inevitable part of daily life. But I’ve worked on making sure it’s not like that in mine.
Such stress doesn’t just lead to mood swings and negativity, but also affects creativity, productivity, focus and getting things done in the long-term, and these are pretty important to me. And the big picture is that it can ruin your health, business and peace of mind.
So I decided to analyze the causes of stress, to get to the bottom of this so that I can find a way to manage my stress levels and eliminate not just the symptoms but also the stuff that causes this. Plus, this means I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.
Here’s what I found:
6 Causes of Stress That Affect My Productivity and Happiness Levels
1. Being overwhelmed by having a lot to do.
There’s always a lot to be done. And if we go after completing all the tasks, we’ll end up drained, disappointed (as it’s impossible to do a good job when you work on too many things), emotionally exhausted and being under stress even when the workday is over and we want to relax.
What causes stress in this case? Looking at the big picture.
It’s something I often write about, it’s even one of the main reasons why we procrastinate, but I guess I overlooked that point and let it get to me.
The big picture is scary. It stresses us because we see a project for the huge amount of time and effort it will take, that makes us anxious, negative and tired before we’ve even started working on it.
So to deal with this stress symptom, just divide it down into smaller steps and take a look at the first one. It shouldn’t take long or any willpower, so there’s nothing stopping you from taking action right now.
Such mindset will take time to develop, but once it becomes your norm, you’ll be all about action, working on any task one step at a time, and not trying to get it ALL done as most of this work is just not necessary and truly important.
2. Uncertainty about the future.
Freelancing, being self-employed, digital businesses – all these are causes of stress if you let them overwhelm you.
It’s never sure whether you’ll make enough money next month (at least not when you still haven’t built a proper system that brings passive income and works even without you in the picture), whether there will be a new client this week, etc.
There’s uncertainty in business and it’s part of the game. However, because I’m new to this, I’ve unconsciously let it become a stressor for me. But now I’ll do something about it and deal with the stress in a good way.
What helps me slowly overcome this, is that I’ve already realized that uncertainty is part of life. If we decide to constantly prepare for the future and imagine the worst case scenario, we won’t work on our goals in the present and thus get nowhere.
Insecurity is part of life, especially of the location independent lifestyle with no real job. But that’s exactly how I wanted things to be.
I can never know what will happen next. But I can always have peace of mind knowing I’m doing something about it right here, right now.
It’s just that I never applied this simple rule to business. Now I’ll do.
I always try to keep my why in mind and to constantly remind myself of the benefits and what I love about this – the freedom, the independence, the ability to work whenever I want, from the comfort of my home or while traveling, to be working on things I enjoy and to contribute by doing my best work.
So if you too realize that one of the causes of stress in your life is uncertainty about your work or future in general, analyze this to stop living in the future and start taking action in the present instead.
3. Managing time and money and trying to be perfect in it.
Time management, money management, life management – all these are the same if we think about it. And they seem to be the main things that lead to stress if we try to do it well from the very beginning.
There’s only so much we can do in the time we have every day, so how we manage it is important. So it is with money. We need to constantly track things, review all the time and make adjustments, take decisions based on our goals and invest it in things that matter.
I let time and money management stress me, because I set too many goals I think. But just like anything else, these should be done one action at a time.
Keep in mind we’re always learning and improving.
But with more money comes more responsibility. With more responsibility, comes less time. These must be managed well if we want to keep moving forward in life.
However, that shouldn’t be one of the causes of stress in your life. Make sure you enjoy the ride at the same time. You’ll get better at dealing with your time and money in the most effective way.
I’m all about mindfulness and living more slowly. But sometimes I do exactly the opposite.
It’s easy to stress over the next tasks on your to-do list, to think about the clients who haven’t paid while working on a project for a new one, to try to get something done fast so that you can move onto the next sooner and finish your work earlier in order to do all the other things you want to do today.
But that can drive you insane.
People respond to this type of stress in different ways, and the causes may differ, but the solution is the same:
Do things slowly. Work on one thing at a time. Single-task. Don’t be in a hurry and enjoy your current activity.
5. Too much technology.
I work online, so that’s understandable. But I – like everyone else – need some me time, without devices, without email, without social media.
Technology is overwhelming. Especially in my case – being a writer, I enjoy the process of writing things down and putting my thoughts on paper.
However, no matter how useful typing on a laptop is, or the productivity tools and softwares, and all the rest, they still keep our brain activated and may block creativity and affect our health and quality of sleep.
The solution? Unplug.
Find what works best for you. It may be one day off a week without any devices but your phone (and without using apps on it), like Tim Ferriss does.
Or it may be leaving technology behind 2-3 hours prior to bed and just reading, writing or spending quality time with family. Then, you’ll have a good night’s sleep.
It may be writing by hand every morning to clear your mind.
Whatever works for you, just make sure you unplug every now and then so that devices and their vibrations, plus all the things going on online, don’t cause stress in your life.
We all need more time alone. But having our phone next to us, or reading on a tablet, doesn’t mean we’re alone.
6. Other people.
Managing stress means managing how you react to what happens in life. So when it comes to other people and what they do, it’s all about accepting.
Here’s what happens in my case and how other people are a stressor for me:
I obviously expect them to behave and react in a certain way. But they do things their way simply because they are individuals. I choose what to do about it and the options seem to be 2 – I can either get angry about their actions and let things stress me, or I can be okay with it and keep focusing on what I do and get back to working on my goals and tasks.
Stop expecting anything from others. That’s the only way to accept them and enjoy their company.
But you can still avoid difficult people. They cause a lot of stress.
So these are the main reasons why I’ve been more stressed lately. Luckily, I noticed the warning signs and will now do something about the causes of stress and pressure.
What about you? How do you deal with the stress in work and personal life?