Everyday Things That Are Surprisingly Stressful

Stress is a pretty normal part of life. It’s not necessarily bad, though, until you find yourself feeling overwhelmed all the time. “Stress is a necessary part of life that can be handled in small doses,” says Dr. Pete Sulack, leading stress expert and founder of Unhealthy Anonymous and StressRX.com. “[H]owever, when it builds in forms of chemical, physical, mental and emotional stress, seen and unseen, its effects can become deadly.”

For this story, we’ll be focusing on the underlying causes of both chronic stress and distress. Some everyday things can be surprisingly stressful.

1. Uncertainty

man at work looking worried

Feeling doubtful? This could be causing you major stress. | iStock.com

According to Health, any doubt that’s looming over you can up your anxiety levels. “When you know something could change at any minute, you always have your guard up and it’s hard to just relax and enjoy anything,” says Ken Yeager, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The unknown can be daunting, largely because it’s out of your control. Think of any month when you’ve struggled to pay bills on time. It can be a painful waiting game.

2. Work

business woman looking worried

Work is a major source of stress for most people. | iStock.com

It’s no surprise work greatly affects a person’s life, but your job could be negatively impacting your health more than you think, according to a poll of working adults in the U.S. The poll, which sought to answer questions related to health in the workplace, shed light on just how stressed working adults are in this country. According to the authors, 20% of working Americans reported they’ve experienced a great deal of stress at work in the past 12 months while 37% have experienced some stress at work. Furthermore, certain groups of employees or those with additional stressors may be even worse off. These groups include workers who face potentially dangerous situations on the job, those with low-paying jobs, and those working 50 or more hours per week.

3. Other people’s stress

husband and wife working on finances with calculator and laptop

It’s possible that you’re stressed because those you care about are also stressed. | iStock.com/Tomwang112

It’s inevitable that those around you will experience stress of their own, and in some cases, empathy for another person’s experiences can negatively impact your own life. According to research published by the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology, even a stranger’s stress can trigger similar feelings for you. It’s sometimes difficult to ward off stress that’s so closely entangled in your environment.

4. House chores

person vacuuming rug at home

Try dividing your chore duties with others in your house to lessen the stress. | iStock.com

We all have housework to complete, but it can really add stress to your life if you find yourself doing every chore on your own. Scott Schieman, Ph.D., professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, tells Health, “Dividing up housework and parenting responsibilities can be tricky, especially if both partners work outside the home. And whether you define that division of labor as equal or unequal can really change your attitude toward it.” Try your best to distribute the work evenly among those you live with to lessen stress for everyone.

5. Multitasking

Stressed businesswoman in the office

Focus on one task at a time to avoid stress. | iStock.com/kieferpix

While some people might consider multitasking an art, it could actually be harming you in the long run. Being able to do multiple things at once is great, but doing so does not necessarily mean you’re producing quality results. In a 2012 study, medical professionals examined people in the workplace who were continuously tempted by an abundance of emails. The researchers found people who responded to emails throughout the day, as opposed to those who waited to respond all at once, experienced more heart-rate variability, which is an indicator of mental stress. The study was small, but it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.