Stress Triggers: What Are Yours?


What causes you stress? What causes you so much distress that you become vulnerable to high anxiety or depression?

Is it specific circumstances, unpleasant feelings or the existence of certain people in your life? Is it a very painful memory?

All of the above?

Says Columbia Center For Psychiatry: “Stress is something that most people experience on a daily basis…[it’s] our reaction to events, environmental or internal, that are associated with substantial adaptive demands that tax or exceed our adaptive resources.”

The question is: how are you dealing with the stress in your life?

Are you on autopilot, letting stress enter at will without an invitation?

Stress is always ready to pounce, and it has a significant impact on your health. It doesn’t require an ongoing welcome.

Understanding your stress triggers is important. Understanding your own boundaries is important. You do not have to greet stress every time it approaches.

The Stress In Your Life

Some questions to contemplate:

  • Who upsets you, and why? 
  • What makes you feel powerless?
  • When are you the most vulnerable?
  • In what situations do you experience the most tension?
  • Why do specific issues bother you?
  • How does your character and temperament affect your levels of stress?

Your Personality Traits And Stress

‘Who we are’ and “where we’ve been” often determines how stress impacts us.

You may unconsciously invite stressors because you’ve had challenging life circumstances, or have experienced trauma or abuse.

Or you may be highly sensitive.

These traits and life experiences are important.

If you have low self esteem, for example, you may unwittingly endure debilitating guilt that impairs your ability to look after your own needs. You may be a people pleaser.

If you are a high achieving person, or perfectionist (a cunningly deceptive form of low esteem and self-loathing) you will feel enormous tension when your life is out of control.

If you’re an all or nothing thinker, you may only see the world in black and white. If you succeed at something, you’ll believe you could have done better. If you fail at something, your life is a mess. If someone has a bad day and lashes out at you, you take it personally.

If you are highly sensitive, you will need more quiet and rest than most. And if you don’t get it, you will not fare well in the stress department.

How I’ve Coped

The result of my own stress trigger ‘analysis’ has been a revelation.

Saying the word “No” has been a longtime problem for me. Saying “no” had nasty implications; it meant that I might disappoint or someone, or invite a confrontation. All part of the people pleasing disease, which impairs normal, healthy functioning.

I’m not scared of the word ‘no’ anymore. I finally understand why it loomed so large in my life. I also know now that looking after my own needs is my right and obligation.

Also, I steadfastly refuse to invite drama into my life at specific times of day. Phones and computers are switched off. ‘Tuning out’ keeps my life on an even keel, quiet when I need it to be, and balanced.

I also engage in regular techniques and practices which mitigate stress and manage it. Getting relief from anxiety is key; letting it go in favour of comfort is essential.

When stress rushes in and is beyond my control, I take extra measures to be more compassionate to myself.

Your Stress Triggers

To start observing your own stress triggers, observe your own behaviour. When you catch yourself in a stressful moment, tag it, name it, write it down. Keep a journal if you choose.

Also, keep the questions I listed, above, in mind.

While many of us don’t even know why specific stressors affect and debilitate us, this is when your own research, open mindedness, or insight from a therapist is helpful.

In the meantime, when you catch yourself in a stressful moment, or find yourself getting agitated or angry, observe your body language, notice who is present, try to identify what happened, try to find out why it happened.

That’s a good first step.

A pattern will become clear.

Once you identify this pattern, you can assess ‘why’ that pattern has emerged in your life, and think about ways to reduce tension in that area. More importantly, you can find ways to push excess anxiety out, by putting yourself first.

Stress is often what we allow to happen to us. Much of the stress we experience can be managed. Never obliterated completely – that’s a fantasy. Mitigated, yes.

Even something as simple as a stress alert reminder, which you can read about here, can help.

Managing and retooling your life to reduce stressors, and reduce drama, is a powerful act of self-compassion.

In an ever changing world that is moving so fast, it’s also a growing necessity.



For More Information:

“19 Ways To Genuinely Manage Stress”

What Are Your Stress Triggers? A Test –

“Stress Management”

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2012 at 6:00 am and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.



While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

  1. November 4th, 2014 | Mike says:

    Thanks for sharing such a great article. This will benefit a lot of people including myself. I’ve retweeted this for you as I think it’s so brilliant! 🙂

  2. November 4th, 2014 | abby says:

    Thanks for your lovely comments Mike. And for sharing the article. And you know what? I am working through all this stuff too… just like you, just like everyone else. We are all a work in progress…we just have to keep trying, right?

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While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

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