As I sit at my desk writing about stress, I can feel some tension stirring in my body. Outside my home office where I write, construction workers are noisily building a new house. Work will go on next door for a few more months. No doubt I’ll feel the nuisance of the noise at times, but I don’t really expect to feel much tension or stress. For one thing, stress is largely related to unresolved negative emotions—and I’m happy to see this lovely new house being built. Moreover, if the noise gets too loud I can head off to the nearby town library and park myself in one of its secluded corners.
Stress is synonymous with suffering. It’s on a par with tension and anxiety. We experience stress when we add the tonnage of our unresolved emotional issues on to the back of normal everyday challenges.
Yet people are generally determined to ignore the inner causes of stress. They want to blame stress on external factors. In its latest annual survey on stress in America, the American Psychological Association says that money, work, and the economy continue to be the most frequently cited causes of stress.
Significant sources of stress include money (75 percent), work (70 percent), the economy (67 percent), relationships (58 percent), family responsibilities (57 percent), family health problems (53 percent), personal health concerns (53 percent), job stability (49 percent), housing costs (49 percent) and personal safety (32 percent).