Updated: Jul 30
Stress is a part of life, and it’s a natural response to certain situations. For instance, when you’re driving down the road and the car in front of you suddenly hits their brakes. Your stress levels spike as you react to this situation, but there was nothing you could do to prevent it. You had no way of knowing the car in front of you would do that.
However, there are instances in our lives when a common theme may continually arise, leading to increased stress levels. At Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries, our Christian counselors specialize in helping individuals prioritize and improve their mental wellbeing. While some may not associate stress with mental health or wellness, it does have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing.
April is Stress Awareness Month, and we want to share the impact stress can have on our daily lives, and how to identify stress triggers to better manage feelings of stress and anxiety.
Stress and Mental Wellness
“When you're stressed, your body responds by producing physical and mental reactions. These stress responses can be positive, keeping you alert to danger, motivated, or adaptable to new situations. [Furthermore,] stress in itself is not an illness but when you experience it frequently, it increases the risk of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, and substance use problems (WebMD).”
In the instance above, stress is a helpful response because it places your mind in overdrive, allowing you to respond quickly to the threat or situation. However, when a person experiences chronic stress, their mind is continuously in overdrive, which can lead to:
Anxiety and restlessness
An inability to make decisions
Recognizing Stress Triggers
Stress triggers are any challenges or situations that lead a person to experience stress. These triggers can help us reflect inwardly, rather than what we project outwardly. Identifying what triggers stress helps us gain self-awareness, and tells us what we need to do to live healthy lives.
It’s important to note that stress triggers are different for everyone. For example, a co-worker might experience elevated stress before a presentation or public speaking engagement, while you find yourself calm and collected during those moments.
A recent survey found that 28% of respondents worry about money and financial stability daily. For these individuals, they likely experience increased stress every time they spend money, pay a bill, or face an unexpected cost or emergency.
Common stress triggers include:
Work stress - being unsatisfied with your job, experiencing discrimination or harassment, fear of termination, being overworked, and/or working in dangerous conditions.
Significant life events - divorce, loss, moving, being a caregiver, and/or a traumatic incident.
Health-related stress - changes to health (physical or emotional), illness or injury, pregnancy, and/or changes to the health of someone you love.
Financial stress - loss of income, debt, unexpected bills or payments, and/or constant worry of not having enough money.
Fortunately, by understanding what triggers stress in your life, you can find ways to manage and reduce these triggers. While some situations are beyond our control, there are always areas we can control and change. For example, those triggered by financial situations should “consider something simple like [a] food budget. Unless you are already on a bare-minimum food budget, look for ways to shave a few dollars off your grocery bill, like going with the cheaper store brand items. You’ll not only save money, but the feeling of accomplishment and being in control may help reduce your stress as well (Bankrate).”
Manage Stress Triggers
Knowing your stress triggers can make it easier to develop personalized ways to deal with stress. When you know what your triggers are, you can avoid these situations or manage them better.
"I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears." - Psalm 34:4
Other stress management practices include:
Daily exercise produces stress-relieving hormones that improve your physical and mental health.
Find support through support groups, consult a healthcare professional, or talk to friends.
Intentionally set time to do something you enjoy, which can help you relax and increase your overall mental health.
Adopt a technique that works for you such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or massage to manage stress levels.
Our stress triggers can stem from a variety of places in our lives. Things from the past, present, and what we’re nervous about in the future can affect us differently. We invite you to contact Pathfinder Pastoral Care Ministries if you or someone you love is ready to embrace Spiritual thinking and overcome stressful thoughts and habits.