Stress and anxiety are regular occurrences in our day-to-day lives. It can feel as though we are consumed by it. Stress occurs when one feels overwhelmed or cannot cope with a variety of pressures. Usually, these things all add up and feel unmanageable, causing stress. It is safe to say that we all feel stress at one time or another. But sometimes, it can feel like we are stressed about nothing, with no apparent reason to justify such an overwhelming emotion.
While it may feel as though you are stressed for no reason, stress is triggered. These triggers are internal and external stimuli that cause feelings of anxiety. You may not even be aware of some of these stressors and how they are affecting you, leaving you feeling like you are stressed for no reason. There is always a reason for your feelings of stress.
There are many ways stress can manifest itself. You are probably noticing that you’re experiencing stress while not entirely sure of its root cause. You may be experiencing emotional changes due to increased stress levels, such as anxiety, depression, sadness, and frustration.
Behavioral changes are also a symptom of high-stress levels. You may be having trouble sleeping, become tearful, irritable, or withdrawn. Stress can also cause physical changes to your body. You may notice that you have started to get frequent headaches or have developed digestive issues. Heart palpitations and difficulty breathing are common physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.
If you’re feeling stressed with no identified reason, not only can this can lead to more intense feelings of anxiety, but it can cause you to feel frustrated with yourself, isolated, and depressed. It is important to identify where your feelings of stress are coming from and what your triggers are in order to start the process of reducing the levels of anxiety you’re experiencing. Here are nine reasons you are feeling stressed about nothing.
You Get Too Much Screen Time
Screen time is not just something to worry about for your kids. We spend a lot of time on screens. Whether we’re working on laptops, continuously using and checking our phones, binge-watching television, or working on a tablet, screen time has become as much a part of our daily life as eating and breathing.
Studies have shown that the average adult can spend up to 11 hours a day in front of one type of screen or another. And the amount of time you spend in front of your screens is negatively affecting your health. This amount of screen time is associated with reduced sleep and social media addiction.
An abundance of screen time is now being linked to certain stress markers in the brain. The media we consume on these devices can cause physical reactions mimicking the stress response in our bodies, leaving us feeling stressed with no tangible reason to assign it to.
One of the reasons for this is that the blue light emitted from our devices, especially before bed, can severely impact our sleep cycles. Using your phone or tablet before bed can reduce or stop your body’s natural melatonin production. This is the sleep hormone that you produce, which causes you to feel sleepy and fall asleep.
The bright lights at bedtime can also convince your brain that you need to stay awake. The lack of quality sleep you are getting as a result of your devices can lead to becoming stressed more easily. Things that wouldn’t normally cause you to feel overwhelmed begin to feel insurmountable when you are sleep deprived.
Our attachment to our screen also limits our face-to-face social interactions. Human beings are social in nature, and studies have proven that strong emotional personal relationships can give us a sense of purpose and lower stress levels.
You Spend Too Much Time on Social Media
While the use of social media relates to screen time, it in and of itself carries a slew of adverse effects on one’s mental health and stress levels. Remember, stress is a triggered response, and “social media has been found to induce stress in different ways.” (thejakartapost.com)
Social media causes us to compare. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the inundation of images of people who look better, sound better, or seem better than how you perceive yourself causes us incredible anxiety and feelings of low self-esteem. Social media gives you images of people’s happiest and most put-together moments, which can lead to unrealistic expectations of our own lives, which ultimately causes undue stress.
One of the darker sides of social media is that it is highly addicting. Social media has been proven to be both psychologically and physically addicting. Like any addiction, when you are without the source, your body and brain enter withdrawal symptoms. Being removed from social media, if you are addicted, can cause you to experience feelings of stress and anxiety.
In a strange twist, the act of trying to stop using social media as often and not being able to is another direct cause of stress. Many people attempt to limit or stop using social media to reduce stress, only to find that they are more stressed than before. This is a red flag that you are addicted to social media and should consult with your physician.
Along with the comparison and the issue with addiction, social media has also been linked to sleep disturbances and isolation. All underlying causes of stress that we discussed in screen time use. Social media use is something you may be overlooking as a stressor, having you believe you are stressed about nothing.
You Are a Multi-Tasker
You may pride yourself on your ability to multitask, but you may find it interesting to learn that we are incapable of doing two things at once. What we think of as multitasking is actually switching. Your brain is shifting its attention from one thing to another over and over and over again, sometimes at alarming speeds.
“Doing several tasks simultaneously may seem like the height of efficiency –
and it would be, if a person had more than one brain. In the real world,
multitasking actually wastes time and reduces work quality.” David Meyer, PhD
Multi-tasking inherently seems like the right way to go about accomplishing many things in a shorter amount of time. Still, in reality, it only leads to less productivity and more stress. This can lead to feelings of failure, which cause stress.
Also, when the demands of work and home life seem to keep mounting regardless of our exhaustive attempts at multitasking, we are left with nothing else but stress. Multitasking leaves us less productive than we want to be, and we are wasting time making our brains switch in its function multiple times.
These circumstances can lead to your body producing stress hormones. These hormones can put you on edge. The prolonged production of stress hormones can lead to several physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and of course, trouble sleeping. If you are a chronic multi-tasker, this behavior can be the cause of your stress.
You’re Too Busy to Cope
Overscheduling yourself with activities and tasks has become commonplace as of late. Almost everyone you talk to shares this notion of “being busy.” It’s slowly becoming a characteristic of modern culture.
However, staying busy is also a coping mechanism for many people, and they are generally unaware of how they are using it. If you use your business as a coping mechanism, you are avoiding many underlying causes and triggers for your stress. By masking them with busyness, you will always feel as though you are stressed for no reason.
If you find it hard to slow down, are overly social, have a cluttered calendar, and people are often pointing out how busy you are, you may be making yourself busy to avoid underlying emotional stressors.
Chronic busyness also leaves you with little to no downtime. Your mind and body require recharging, just like any battery does. Being always on the go increases the levels of stress hormones in your body. It is essential to make time for yourself to be present with the people and things around you.
Mindfulness and being present daily will lead to feeling more grounded and involved in your life and can be beneficial to stress reduction.
You Have Unrealistic Expectations
Setting goals and wanting more out of life is not a bad thing. Goal setting and striving for a better life can be great motivators for your personal success.
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies. When our expectations are unrealistic, we can be left feeling disappointed or experience feelings of failure. We can set ourselves up to stress for no reason.
We set expectations for everything we do, how an interview might go, how you want your home to look, how your body should look. We decide prematurely what the holidays should be like, what you should have done by the afternoon, or how a conversation with your mother might go.
All-day long, we set expectations. And what happens when we hold everything and everyone to an unobtainable standard is that we feel stressed out. Sometimes, without even knowing it.
“But high expectations are often a form of trying to
control both outcomes and other people, and can lead to
considerable stress and mood swings.”
If you are experiencing high levels of stress and are trying to figure out why, take a look at the expectations you are creating around the people and tasks in your life. It’s vital that you honestly approach the unrealistic expectations you have set in your life.
Your Everyday Inconveniences Are Triggering Deeper Feelings
There are many things throughout the day that can lead to brief feelings of stress or anxiety. These add up over time, and more importantly, they trigger more deep-seated fears we may have subconsciously. Before long, you may find yourself stressed out about something that seems like it should be no big deal.
For example, your long commute or a traffic jam can be minorly stressful. However, it can also trigger your fear of being late or being irresponsible.
Perhaps someone was rude to you while you were grabbing your morning coffee. While this is annoying and unnecessary, it really shouldn’t be cause for stress. This encounter may bring up unresolved fears of being inadequate or being bullied, in which case, could become a trigger for high stress.
It could just be that these everyday mundane inconveniences don’t quite fit into your unrealistic expectations, which we previously discussed. If you find yourself being stressed out over these daily occurrences, you should take some time to reflect on what the actual stressor is in these scenarios.
You Are What You Eat
Proper nutrition is something that we hear about all the time. The fuel we put into our bodies has a direct and astounding impact on the way we feel. In our busy lives, it is easy to overlook the fact that what we are eating may be the source of some of our feelings of stress and anxiety.
Eating Well recently published 7 Foods That Are Secretly Stressing You Out. Limiting your intake and avoiding some of these stress-inducing foods and drinks may help you to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
- White flour
- Processed meats
- Fried foods
Keeping an eye on your intake of these kinds of foods can help with alleviating your feelings of stress. But it is also important to note that your new “healthy” diet can also be the culprit.
If you are on a restrictive diet, for example, one that eliminates a type of food, you may be experiencing various symptoms, including feeling tired or lethargic or even irritable and short-fused.
The most important thing to remember is that balanced and proper nutrition is required for our bodies and brains to function at its optimal level. Make sure you are nourishing yourself to decrease your tendency to feel stressed and anxious.
You Are Not Organized
It isn’t very hard to overload our brains these days. The mental load of balancing work and home life can be exhausting. When we are not prepared, we waste valuable space in our minds that can be used for rational thinking, problem-solving, and by default, not stressing over small things.
A lack of organization also keeps us always in “busy” mode. We discussed the effects of busyness on stress levels, and being unorganized only adds to how busy we feel.
When we are continually looking for essential documents or trying to ensure we don’t forget our impossibly long to-do lists, not only are we keeping ourselves busy, but we are forcing ourselves to multitask.
Writing things down, planning your day, and even organizing your time will not only make you more productive, but it will lessen the number of things you have to stress about and leave you with more time for yourself.
You Don’t Get Enough Physical Activity
A recent study set out to link sedentary behavior to feelings of stress. With all of the technology around us and our hectic lives, many of us do not take the time for physical activity. We end up spending most of our time sedentary.
As we absorb the everyday stressors in our lives, day in and day out, our stress hormones build up, and our sleeplessness becomes more chronic. Poor sleep leads to more stress, and more stress leads to more inadequate sleep. It’s a vicious cycle.
Couple that with a lack of physical activity, and you are bound to be left feeling stressed all the time, with little to no explanation.
Exercise and physical activity combat stress hormones in the body. Taking a brisk walk, going for a jog, a bike ride, or doing some yoga can all have incredibly powerful effects on your mood and mental state.
Exercise releases endorphins, which is a neurotransmitter that is known to make you feel good. It is also a natural pain reliever and can lower your levels of cortisol, your stress hormone.
Making the time to exercise also helps you clear your mind and offers a distraction to the underlying cause that may be temporarily causing you to feel stressed. And exercise has been proven to help improve your sleep, which we know is crucially important to our overall mood and cognitive function.
Stress is a normal part of life. When it becomes chronic or seems misplaced, it can have detrimental effects on our overall health, our lives, and our relationships. Too often, we focus on the feeling of stress itself and try to immediately alleviate it instead of learning about what our stressors and triggers are.
Stress always has an underlying cause. Although it may feel at times that you are stressing about nothing, it is important to remember that somewhere, something is causing you to be stressed out. If you are experiencing chronic stress and your efforts to find the cause or reduce your levels of stress aren’t working, you should consult with your doctor.