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Why do people experience stress?

Managing stressStress is a natural, physical response to our perceptions of a stimulus. It has an evolutionary purpose: our need to protect ourselves and the innate ‘flight or fight’ aspect of our nervous system. When we were battling for survival, stress is what released the adrenaline that let us fight. So although most of us don’t have to battle our way into the office each morning, the response to stimuli and the stress that results still exist.

Stress has an evolutionary purpose: the need to protect ourselves through the innate ‘fight or flight’ aspect of our nervous system.

That stimulus could be something physical, such as stubbing your toe, or emotional, such as the fear of losing your job or being embarrassed in the workplace. But not all sources of stress are negative stimuli. Some sources of stress are actually happy events. For example, getting promoted into a new position is a positive event, but it can add pressure to increase your work hours or the quality of your work, resulting in additional stress.

There are three main categories that cause stress in our lives:

  • Lack of Needs:
    • Physiological
    • Safety
    • Belonging
    • Ego or Status
    • Self-Actualization
  • Organizational:
    • Physical environment
    • Role-related
    • Relationships
    • Changes in the organization
  • Life:
    • Personal changes
    • Personal trauma

When your basic needs as a human being are not met, you are bound to experience stress. For example, if you become homeless, become involved in an abusive relationship, or don’t have a support system in place, you will experience stress. If the organization of your workplace is physically uncomfortable, your job becomes more demanding, your boss and you don’t get along, or the organization itself changes, stress is sure to be a result. Then in your own life, any major changes such as marriage, divorce, or the loss of a loved one will all cause stress.

As we said, some of these occurrences may be positive, but stress will still result. The important thing is how you handle the stress that you experience.

Download our eBook “Managing Stress” by MTD Training to find out more about how to deal with stress.