Stress Management Blog

List of Causes of Stress in Life

Stress is not an event or an emotion. It is not that extra burden of work your boss tossed on your desk today. Those are causes of stress. Stress is your body’s response to those causes.

Stress comes in two flavors: eustress and distress. Eustress is your body’s response to positive, happy emotions and events. Distress is your body’s response to negative, upsetting emotions and events.

People respond differently to emotions and events that may be causes of stress. Introverts and extroverts, for example. Both may experience the same causes of stress, but will respond in different ways. An extrovert is more likely to respond with angry, impulsive actions such as screaming, throwing objects, hitting, etc. An introvert tends to respond inwardly, screaming silently at himself, suffering inner anxiety and depression. The causes of stress are identical, but the stress itself (body’s response) is different.

Positive Causes of Stress

Here is a limited list of positive causes of stress in life. Each of these would normally be classified eustress.

  1. engagement and marriage
  2. birth of a child
  3. job promotion
  4. student graduating
  5. congenial workplace relationships
  6. students’ academic challenge
  7. college life
  8. pay raise
  9. vacation
  10. acceptance at 2 or more colleges
  11. acceptance at 2 equally desirable jobs
  12. holiday celebrations
  13. welcome visitors in the home
  14. desire to please parents
  15. birthday
  16. shopping
  17. purchase of a home
  18. purchase of a car
  19. good news from a physician
  20. winning a prize or award

Negative Causes of Stress

Here is a limited list of negative causes of stress in life. Each of these would normally be classified distress.

  1. children’s misbehavior
  2. teenagers’ rebellion
  3. divorce
  4. hostile workplace relationships
  5. students’ academic challenge
  6. college life
  7. discrimination
  8. unsatisfying job
  9. physical handicap
  10. death of a friend or loved one
  11. heavy demands at work
  12. personal appearance frustration
  13. family demands
  14. perfectionism in yourself
  15. lack of clear job description
  16. lack of boundaries for children
  17. finances
  18. purchase of a home
  19. purchase of a car
  20. bad news from a physician

Eustress and Distress Causes of Stress

You will note that some causes of stress may be either eustress or distress. Academic challenges, for example, may bring forth a response of pressing on to higher achievement or a response of discouragement, frustration, and depression. The body and mind may respond to a day of shopping with euphoria, and a sense of pleasure over purchased items. Or anxiety may set in when bills are totaled and there is a realization that too much was spent.


Causes of stress that focus on life’s central issues call forth a more acute response. For example, the body will respond to the death of a spouse or child in a much more severe and disruptive manner than it will to the decision to spend Thanksgiving at a different home this year.

Causes of stress that persist will elicit a more serious response, too. A hostile workplace relationship that persists never gives the body a break.

Causes of stress that pile up at one time bring forth a greater response than those that are handled singly.