Why Micro-Stressors Are Ruining Your Day

The hidden culprits responsible for stress, anxiety and burnout

Adrian Drew

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

When we talk about stress, most of us jump straight to talking about the big things. You know, those large, overarching stressors in our life that loom in the shadows and weigh us down.

To start, there’s our mortgage, income and taxes. Then there’s our marital problems, parenthood and friendships. And to top it all off, we have to try and keep ourselves happy and healthy.

Those things are all stressful. We know that. What often goes unnoticed, though, are the smaller, less-daunting things that populate our day-to-day lives. Or, as Dr. Rangan Chatterjee calls them, micro-stressors.

A micro-stressor might be a bad night’s sleep. It could be a traffic jam on the way to work. Perhaps it’s an argument at home.

Whatever specific situation crops up throughout our day, one thing is for certain. No matter how big or small the stimulus, these stressors add up. Together, they stand to jeopardise our happiness, mental health and just about everything that’s important to us in life.

Missing the Mark

It’s ironic, really. In all of our efforts to mitigate stress by cutting down our working hours or attending marriage counselling with our wife, we forget entirely about the other things that cause us to feel stressed. We ignore micro-stressors in favour of macro-stressors.

Indeed, it’s important to take care of the big things, too. But whilst focusing so incessantly on minimising the impacts of such situations, we leave a lot of loose ends untied.

As Victoria Woodhall puts it, we’re exposed to dozens of micro stresses every single day — and they all add up.

‘For example, your alarms blares, you check your Insta feed and see a colleague sunning themselves on a Greek island, you check the news and see some distressing images, you feel a bit groggy after last night’s late pizza and half a bottle of wine and reach for the paracetamol and before you know it, you’ve had 20 micro-stress doses before breakfast.’

What’s the sum of all of these stress doses? Well, they leave us feeling drained, exhausted and on the…

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Adrian Drew

Owner of Mind Cafe | Let’s chat on Instagram: @adriandrew__