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Top facts about stress: Understanding the body’s response to stress, common triggers, leading causes, and more

Top facts about stress: Understanding the body’s response to stress, common triggers, leading causes, and more

Everyone knows what stress feels like—but understanding all of the potential effects and triggers can be difficult. 

That’s why we’ve laid out some of the most important facts about stress, plain and simple. Take a closer look at what stress really is, from its biological basis to the most common triggers. 

What Are 5 Important Facts About Stress?

Contemporary facts about stress have and will continue to change so that professionals and laypeople alike have a better idea of what it is and how it can be treated and coped with. But at present, here are five facts about stress to keep at the top of your mind: 

  • Stress is a natural response to a perceived threat or demand, and it can be triggered by both positive and negative events. Stress can arise from various sources, such as work-related pressures, relationship problems, financial difficulties, or health issues.
  • Stress can have both physical and psychological effects on the body. It can cause the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. Stress can also impact mood, causing feelings of anxiety, irritability, and fatigue.
  • Chronic stress can lead to a range of health problems. Chronic stress occurs when stressors persist over a prolonged period, including cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety disorders.
  • Exercise, meditation, social support, and time management strategies can help to reduce stress. Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can also be beneficial for people experiencing chronic stress or stress-related disorders.
  • Stress affects people differently, and what one person finds stressful, another may not. Factors that can influence stress include genetics, personality, coping mechanisms, and life experiences. It is essential to identify and manage stress in a way that works best for the individual.

What Are 3 Common Triggers of Chronic Stress?

When it comes to understanding the facts about stress, it’s important to know there’s a difference between occasionally feeling drained and suffering from chronic stress. Chronic stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Work-related stress: Work-related stress is one of the most common causes of chronic stress. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including long working hours, job insecurity, lack of control over workload or work environment, and conflicts with colleagues or managers.
  • Financial stress: Financial stress is another common trigger of chronic stress. It can be caused by factors such as debt, job loss, or a lack of savings. Financial stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even physical health problems.
  • Relationship stress: Relationship stress can also be a significant trigger of chronic stress. This can include conflicts with family members, friends, or romantic partners. Ongoing relationship problems can increase stress levels over time.

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How Common Is Stress and Anxiety?

Chronic stress and anxiety are quite common in today’s face-paced society. According to the American Psychological Association’s facts about stress, approximately 77% of adults in the United States report experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress, while 73% report experiencing psychological symptoms. 

Additionally, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that anxiety disorders affect around 31% of adults in the United States at some point in their lives. Chronic stress and anxiety can have serious negative impacts on an individual’s physical and mental health, so it’s important to seek support and treatment from a professional if experiencing these issues.

What Can Chronic Stress Lead to?

Below are some of the potential consequences of chronic stress:

  • Mental health problems: Chronic stress can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental health conditions.
  • Sleep problems: Chronic stress can interfere with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to fatigue and other sleep-related problems.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Chronic stress can contribute to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Digestive problems: Chronic stress can cause digestive problems such as anxiety nausea, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcers.
  • Immune system dysfunction: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
  • Cognitive problems: Chronic stress can impair memory and other cognitive functions, making it harder to concentrate and learn.

It’s important to seek support and treatment if you’re experiencing chronic stress, as it can have serious negative impacts on your health and well-being.

What Is the Leading Cause of Stress in Life?

A leading source of stress for many people is financial concerns. Money problems, such as debt, difficulty paying bills, or struggling to make ends meet, can cause significant stress and anxiety. 

Other common stressors include work-related stress, relationship issues, health problems, and major life changes or transitions such as moving, divorce, or the death of a loved one. It’s important to recognize that everyone’s stressors are different and what may be a significant source of stress for one person may not be for another.

How Common Is Chronic Stress in Students?

Chronic stress is a common issue among students, particularly those in high school and college. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more than 60% of college students report experiencing high levels of stress, and 30% say that stress has negatively impacted their academic performance.

There are several factors that can contribute to chronic stress in students, including academic pressure, financial worries, relationship problems, and social pressures. The demands of coursework, exams, and extracurricular activities can also take a toll on students’ mental health and well-being. 

If left unaddressed, chronic stress can lead to a range of negative consequences, including anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and physical health problems. It is important for students to take steps to manage their stress and seek support if needed by going to counseling services or student support groups.

What Are 5 Habits that Can Cause Stress?

Here are five habits that can contribute to stress:

  • Negative self-talk: Constantly criticizing oneself or engaging in negative self-talk can create a sense of self-doubt and anxiety, which can lead to chronic stress.
  • Procrastination: Waiting until the last minute to complete tasks can lead to a sense of pressure and urgency, which can be stressful.
  • Perfectionism: Striving for perfection in all aspects of life can create an unrealistic and unattainable standard, which can lead to stress and anxiety.
  • Lack of exercise: A sedentary lifestyle can increase stress levels, as physical activity has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Poor time management: Not having a plan or structure for daily tasks can lead to a feeling of overwhelm and stress.

By being aware of these habits (and the facts about stress listed above), individuals can take steps to reduce their impact on their stress levels, such as practicing positive self-talk, working on better time management, setting realistic goals, and engaging in regular physical activity. And if personal interventions aren’t enough, professional assistance can be a way to gain better guidance and understanding.

  • Clinical writer
  • Editorial writer
  • Clinical reviewer
  • 2 sources
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Theresa Lupcho, LPCLicensed Professional Counselor
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Theresa Lupcho is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a passion for providing the utmost quality of services to individuals and couples struggling with relationship issues, depression, anxiety, abuse, ADHD, stress, family conflict, life transitions, grief, and more.

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Alexandra “Alex” Cromer is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who has 4 years of experience partnering with adults, families, adolescents, and couples seeking help with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and trauma-related disorders.

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Jason CrosbyMental Health Writer

Jason Crosby is a Senior Copywriter at Thriveworks. He received his BA in English Writing from Montana State University with a minor in English Literature. Previously, Jason was a freelance writer for publications based in Seattle, WA, and Austin, TX.

We only use authoritative, trusted, and current sources in our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our efforts to deliver factual, trustworthy information.

  • Any Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

  • (n.d.).

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