Stress Management Series
“Examining Common Causes of Stress--Part 2” (SL#90)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 11 - Stress Management

Note: This article, Part 2, continues Common Causes, Part 1; for an introduction to this material, see that article, SL#89.

4. Common Stressor #4: Family and Personal

Your family, by whatever size or shape, offers the greatest possible source of responsibility and satisfaction; it also brings with it the front-line potential for stress. What is written about responsibility includes the family: “the social force that binds you to your obligations and the courses of action demanded by that force.” (Princeton University’s WordNet)

Why is family a possible, even a likely, stressor in your personal life? Joy as it may be, the family is also a responsibility, one that does not go away with time, or can be left when the going gets tough like a bad job! Family stress can be caused by any number of very real and profoundly personal responsibilities: financial, health, illness, injury, death.

Reflection: This is a good time to record your own thoughts about family—its source of great satisfaction and cause of stress and anxiety.

5. Common Stressor #5: Vision/Purpose

Each of us lives out of an internal purpose, or reason, for life and living; this is a real component of everyday life and how we approach it. Such a purpose also shapes a vision, or dominant view, of our past and our future. Elements of this become stressors, both negative and positive, that makes the whole.

When the past is a constant laboratory for learning lessons and self-understanding and improvement, it can be a positive arena of thought. But when we dwell on negatives from the past, like feeding a monster, negative stress responses are sure to come. Don’t underestimate the impact your MIND can have on your BODY!

Reflection: Make a short list of your own future or past stressors. What are they and what are you doing about them? Do the mistakes of your yesterdays get addressed and laid to rest, or do they become a backyard compost helping stress grow toward depression or low self-esteem?

6. Common Stressor #6: Frustrations

Reflection: What is the level of frustration you experience on a regular basis? How much frustration is your stress response system able to process? Frustration as a stressor is not easily separated into personal and professional; in fact it has proven to converge and even to be compounded. Create your own “frustration profile” and begin to look for better responses than being highly stressed.

7. Common Stressor #7: Overload

ATCs are faced with a combination of excessive time pressures, life-and-death responsibility, often insufficient support (either managerial or technical), and a virtually damning expectation for perfection from themselves and others. Research on these workers clearly demonstrates the stressful outcome of task overload . . . . Research has revealed that ATCs are occupationally predisposed to certain stress-related diseases, the most significant of which is hypertension, followed by peptic ulcers, and finally diabetes. The most highly stressful jobs of ATCs must certainly help explain why 32.5 percent of those examined in one study suffered from either gastric or duodenal ulcers (Girdano, p. 81).

Reflection: Do you try--or are you required--to do too many things at once or in rapid succession without a break?

Conclusion to Seven Commons Causes/Action Planning

In SL#89 and this article, SL#90, we have summarized seven significant stressors. Hopefully this creates an opportunity for honest self-evaluation and action. Each of the seven stressors we have examined is listed below, along with “Other stressors,” a reminder to add your personal thoughts and experiences. Which of the seven categories do you consider to be your #1 Stressor; and which specific element in each category would you identify as the most prominent cause of stress in your life or leadership? Which might be causing significant stress responses in you that you had not noticed or given much attention? Will you be looking for clues and strategies for stress management? Remember this checklist:

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© 2009; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership