The Top 4 Stressors and How to Combat Them

We tend to think of the “big things” as the most dangerous stressors.  Like health issues, sick parents, loss of a loved one, job loss, things like that.  Yet, that isn’t entirely true.  Other chronic stressors that impact our health and well-being include things like traffic jams, noise and credit card debt, all of which weigh on us.

Stress is the greatest ager of your body in general.  In an American Psychological Association survey on stress, the top 4 sources of stress are money, work (if employed), family responsibilities and health concerns. Let’s talk about ways to minimize the stress in those 4 areas.

  • Money – There are numerous FREE resources on this topic, but here are some “back to basic” tips
    • Awareness – It’s important for you to know exactly (not roughly) where you are spending your money. Backtrack or plan to note every expense for an entire month.  Putting this information in black and white in front of you will likely be very illuminating.  Just like you can’t play your hand until you know what cards you were dealt, you can’t make a financial plan until you know what you’re habits are.
    • Plan It – Once you have an awareness, you can come up with a plan or budget to get yourself in a healthier financial state. Don’t eliminate all “feel good” expenses, just get more creative about them (have a picnic dinner in your backyard instead of going to a restaurant).
    • Make it a Family Affair – Don’t hide your financial situation from your immediate family. Improving this area will require efforts from the entire family.
    • Earn More – Many financial experts state that no one gets rich by working more but rather by investing more. However, some circumstances require more immediate action.  Offer up your talents to friends and family or get another (short-term) job to supplement your income.
  • Current Job – Yes, these tend to pay the bills, but that’s little comfort if you have to drag ass to get there every day. Here are some tips to improve your work situation.
    • Plan Your Day – To the best of your ability, try to foresee obstacles. Reacting to fires is more stressful than preventing them.
    • Take Regular Breaks – Granted, there are some days when we are bombarded and can’t take five minutes to pee, but these should be the exception, not the rule. Stepping away from your work space can do wonders.  Take a walk, find a quiet space (your car or a bathroom stall if you have to) and just chill.  Breathe, meditate, relax.  This will re-energize you.
    • Consider Your Perspective – If an outsider looking in would scoop up your job in a New York minute (and most would), give thought to the lens you’re looking through. Are you spending too much time focused on the crappy parts of the job and not enough on the parts you love?
    • Prepare For and Check-Out the Other Side – No one gets paid enough to work long-term in a job they hate. If there is no end or reward in sight, it’s time to polish up your resume and see what’s out there.  Check employment sites and start getting your name out there for consideration.
  • Family Responsibilities – Often these float our boat, but other times they feel like they could sink us.
    • Talk About It – Talk with others who have walked (or crawled) this path before you. They likely have tips to help you.
    • Give Up the Guilt – There’s no training manual for being an awesome partner, parent or caregiver. Do what you can.  You’re going to screw up, make mistakes and maybe even fail in an epic way.  Learn from your mistakes, move on and try to do better next time.
    • Share the Pain – You don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of resources available to you.  Using them doesn’t make you weak…it makes you resourceful.
  • Health Concerns – Sometimes these issues are within our control and other times they aren’t.
    • Control What You Can Control – If you’re at risk for something, take any steps you are comfortable with to prevent it. If you are already battling something, do what you can to minimize the effects. That’s all you can do.
    • Eat, Sleep, Love – Eat nutritious, healthful foods, get your sleep and love and laugh often.
    • Stop Wondering – The anticipation of something is often worse than the actual exam. Get that mole checked out.  Get the colonoscopy, mammogram or pap smear you’ve been putting off.  You know when something doesn’t feel right, get it checked.  No one cares if you’re being paranoid.

In all of these areas there is one super important step you must take: Take care of yourself.  You need to take some time just for you.  Your family is depending on you, your job is depending on you and you are depending on you.  Take care of this machine that is your body and mind.  It has needs.  Meet them, maintain them so that you can provide all that you do in the other areas.

In the comments section, share a tip that could help someone else who is walking a path you’ve already traversed.

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*This post was originally published in June 2015


  1. Great article. It’s so true that so many people tend To discount the impact of every day stressors on our health and state of being. Learning to recognize them is the first step. You’ve done a great job listing them here and giving suggestions.

    • Thanks Mira! You certainly know all about the impact these every day stressors have on us. Thanks for the kind words!

  2. I like how you address the importance of taking care of ourselves in the end. When I was working during the day, there are times I was bombarded by tasks and deadlines that even a bathroom break was very inconvenient. Lately I have learned to take things slow and get much needed break,. Without a healthy mind and body, nothing can be done. Thanks for another great post!

  3. My favourite of these tips is to stop wondering – it is so easy to “catasrophise” as my husband calls it!

    • That’s an interesting word that describes so well how our wonderings can run rampant! Thanks for sharing, Jinny!

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