What Are the Main Causes of Stress?
A quick search of the Internet will yield numerous sites detailing the most common causes of stress. Here are the ones described most often:
If you just had more money would that reduce some of the stress in your life? If you were appreciated more at your job, had a more reasonable boss, or worked with more agreeable people, would you experience less stress? If you had greater trust in your closest friends, and if you knew you were unconditionally loved by them, would you have less stress? If you could slow down the pace of your life and eliminate some of the demands on your time, would you be nearly stress-free?
What are the Real Causes of Stress?
I wouldn't designate any of the above as causes of stress; I would call them occasions for stress. How can I say this? Because two people can face the same set of circumstances and one will get stressed, and the other will not be stressed. If this is so, then the circumstance or relationship cannot be the cause of stress. It must be something else. It must be something that is unique to the individual person. The real cause of stress must be something internal rather than something external.
When my daughter was sixteen, and had just gotten her driver's license, after working a late shift at the restaurant, she travelled fours hours through the night to the place where we were camping. I didn't lose any sleep during the night, and enthusiastically greeted her when she woke up at our campsite in the morning. Now some might say that I just didn't love her; that if I really loved her I would've waited up worrying until she safely arrived. But I can tell you, without question, that I dearly love my daughter. Why then didn't I stress out about her late trip through the night, while some other people would surely get stressed by such a circumstance?
A Different Take on the Causes of Stress
Is the person who doesn't get stressed a better person? No, but it is likely that he or she has a different perspective on circumstances, relationships, and life in general, that enables him or her to avoid most stress. I would like to suggest to you three causes for stress that can be attributed to something missing in a person's relationship with God. They are:
Let me explain briefly—
A Biblical Example
Here's a well-known incident that illustrates how an occasion for stress isn't a cause for stress in everyone, and how a healthy relationship with God can make the difference. We typically think of David vs. Goliath, but this is about David the shepherd vs. Saul the warrior. The king of Israel (as well as his entire army) was stressed out over the threat of the giant Goliath. For at least forty days they were all experiencing chronic stress. The Bible says that Goliath bellowed his challenge, and, "When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid."
When David the shepherd boy (too young to be conscripted into the army) came to bring food for his older brothers, he too heard the threat and challenge of the giant. Here is what he said to King Saul: “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” In other words he was saying, Don't get stressed out over this circumstance. Why were all the soldiers stressed and the shepherd was not? The answer is found in his words to the king. “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” It was his relationship with God that made the difference.
Stress Comes From the Inside
Troubles at work, problems with finances, upsetting personal relationships, and the busyness of day-to-day life may be occasions for you to become stressed, but I don't believe that they are the causes of stress. But just because the causes for stress are mostly internal does not mean that they are unchangeable. You can change the way you respond to circumstances, relationships, and the future; you just need to alter your perspective. In fact, changing yourself is a whole lot easier than changing your circumstances or changing the people around you or changing the world in which you live.
There is real hope!
Now that you have begun to understand the genuine causes of stress, you've taken a giant step toward managing and reducing the stress that is putting many people on the aging fast track.