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7 Hidden Causes of Stress

We are all familiar with the usual sources of stress — work, money, love and health. Our lives can greatly improve once we address not only those but the hidden causes of stress.

Here are seven frequently neglected stressors:

  1. Too much bad, too little good.
    Depending on your answers to the following questions, you might need a lifestyle adjustment:

    • Have I been consuming too much caffeine, alcohol, sugar or junk food?
    • Have I been sleeping at least 7 to 8 hours daily?
    • Have I been engaging in moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes a week?
    • Have I been eating enough greens and healthy food daily and staying hydrated daily?
  2. Being constantly connected.
    Even machines have to be powered down or reboot every so often. Make an effort to unplug and disconnect as frequently as you can. Remember, there is no text, email, call or notification more urgent than restoring your peace of mind.
  3. Not dealing with food allergies and intolerances.
    Food allergies can disrupt our days with itchy rashes, stomach upsets, and vomiting. Food intolerances can make a peaceful day unpleasant with headaches, bloating, irritable bowels and more. They are certainly a source of physical stress we should be actively managing.
  4. Letting FOMO run your life.
    Life these days is often laden with a strong fear of missing out (FOMO). We get bombarded by images of how our lives could be different or better via the social media feeds of our friends and network. Overcome this by reminding yourself that social media feeds are nothing but distorted and heavily edited reality.
  5. Being your own harshest critic and having unrealistic expectations.
    In this highly competitive society we live in, it’s unsurprising that often we are our own worst enemy and feel what we do isn’t good enough. It’s also human nature to keep shifting or creating new goals once we have achieved our initial goals. Try practicing gratitude daily so you can appreciate what is, not what should be.
  6. Not staying clear of toxic friends.
    We can practice positive thinking and mindfulness all we want, but if we remain immersed in a circle of toxic friends, every day becomes a challenge to ward off stresses from the people around us. As taught in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, draw a circle on a piece of paper. In the circle, write in names of people who are loving, supportive and caring toward you. Outside of the circle, write the names of people who suck your time, energy and money or leave you feeling small or down. Try to increase your time with the people in the circle and gradually increase your distance with the people outside of the circle.
  7. Having too much clutter at home and at work.
    It’s amazing how just coming home or going to work to a clean desk free of clutter can make us feel almost instantly lighter. If we put in some effort to keep our homes clutter-free, we can have a peaceful haven to return to each day. Similarly, we can create an oasis of calm at work simply by maintaining a clean desk. De-stressing does not always need to involve fine dining or an expensive getaway.

Junk food photo available from Shutterstock

7 Hidden Causes of Stress

Sylvia Huang

Sylvia Huang is a blogger on life ideas that make every day feel good. She writes about habits and productivity, health and wellness, communication and money matters and shares them with her 200,000 social media followers. Her inspiration comes from her experiences living in Japan, France, Kenya, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, working in the fund management industry and travels in over 25 countries. Read her other articles on her website, and join her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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APA Reference
Huang, S. (2018). 7 Hidden Causes of Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Nov 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.