It is difficult to decide when stress starts to affect your life in a negative way. Everyone namely experiences stress sometimes and stress can even be a healthy stimulus. But when does our scale tip over and do we have too much stress?

Excessive stress can have different causes. The causes stress can differ from situation to situation. Causes of stress can also be different from person to person. It is therefore difficult to find what the exact causes stress are, because they are dynamic.

How can we then say anything regarding the causes stress, if they are all so different? There is a model, which explains excessive stress. This model does not say much about specific and personal causes stress, but rather provides insight when it becomes too much for you, meaning healthy stress turns into unhealthy stress.

Causes stress explained

In the previous paragraph we already mentioned that causes stress can differ between situations and persons. To give you some examples of causes stress, you will find a list below with possible causes stress:

  • Work pressure increase
  • Stressful period at work
  • Renovating a house
  • A death occurring
  • A divorce
  • A transitional period of your children
  • Illness of your children

It can be so that your personal causes of stress are not included in this lis, because we only want to give some insight as to what causes stress really entail.

Does this mean that the examples of causes stress above will always lead to excessive stress levels? No! Just like all other mental issues, there is a combination at play of situational factors and how you deal with those.

Situational factors + how you deal with them => stress or no stress

With situational factors we mean stressful situations, such as the examples of causes stress given above. How you deal with these regards your reaction to these situations. Everyone is different, and therefore everyone will react differently, in accordance to their experiences and beliefs. It can, however, be so that you have a reaction to these stressful situations which is not healthy for your body. An example could be that you might start working way too hard. It can then be so that you experience less pressure at work, but your body and mind will suffer from this hard work. That is why we introduce the weighing scale model to explain stress even further.

A balance of causes stress and positive elements in your life

It can be so that you increase work pressure or have other causes stress in your life, but this does not automatically lead to a stress reaction. Stress can be seen as a sort of weighing scale. It is useful to keep this scale balanced. At one side of the scale you will find that which causes stress. here you will find situations or elements which cause personal stress for you. At the other end of the scale you will find situations or elements which make you happy. These things pick you up and make you enjoy life. These could include the following:

  • Sports
  • Great colleagues
  • A good relationship
  • Wonderful friends
  • Support from your family

These elements, too, can be different for everyone. When the scale is balanced, the chance of excessive stress will be smaller than it would be if the scale tips toward the side of 'causes stress'. This means that it is okay if work or stressful situations increase, as long as you have enough positive things in your life which can counterbalance this stress. If the causes stress suddenly increase but the great times with your partner or friends stay the same, then the scale might tip toward 'causes stress', causing excessive stress levels.

Must the scale always be balanced?

It is not always easy to keep the scale balanced. It can therefore be so sometimes that the scale tips toward causes stress. If this happens for a short period of time or at a low-level, it is generally not so harmful. However if you experience an intense or extensive period of time where causes stress are overwhelming, this can lead to an excessive stress level. At such a time it is useful to look for help and to actively treat stress. This can be done by, for example, increasing the amount of positive elements in your life or, if the stress has progressed, looking for treatment to actively work on your stress.

In general, the burden and the power to carry this burden should counterbalance each other. They should keep each other balanced. The positive things make it so that the negative things do not have as much of an impact in our lives. We can also imagine this as a scale with the burden at one side and the power to carry the burden at the other.

Would you like to know what your stress level is? Then take the free stress test here!