By Jeff Davidson

What kind of stressors can the typical professional manager experience? The number can be staggering, but once you’ve identified your primary sources of stress, you can devise personal strategies for diminishing their effects.

Sources of Stress

Actually, almost anything in your environment can act as a stressor. Here are some examples:

Your boss or bosses. Mean, unfair, disorganized, or someone with whom you experience tension can be an immense source of stress to you. Such a person—or people—can make your daily work routine miserable. In extreme cases, perhaps this stress can shorten your life, as can many other stressors.

Team members. People who are responsible to you and your organization’s goals can be an extreme cause of stress, especially if they are late, tardy, unreliable, incompetent, or untrustworthy.

Relationships. Whether it is your wife, husband, mother, brother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, uncle, sister, second cousin twice removed, great-granduncle on your mother’s side, anyone in your lineage can qualify. Relationship stress impacts almost everyone. Who hasn’t felt stressed because of a relationship in their life?

Work-related stress. Independent of any particular person involved, the workplace itself can be stressful. Moreover, work-related stress seems to be on the rise. Whether it’s takeovers, downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, new organizations, or meeting the challenge of hyper-competition, today’s career professional is likely to teem with stress, which manifests in dead-end careers, emotional disorders, and families torn asunder.

Poor nutrition. You may not have considered your eating habits, but if you’re consuming too much junk food, you might be lacking vital nutrients and may not have the physiology to support yourself in times of need.

Do you eat any square meals a day? Do you eat any vegetables and fruits? Do you take vitamins? Many people don’t, and they then wonder why it’s so tough for them to get through the day.

Sleep. Study after study shows that Americans, as well as career professionals throughout the world, consistently do not get sufficient sleep on a daily basis. Lack of sleep lowers a person’s immunity and increases susceptibility to disease and especially to stressors in the environment.

Monetary pressures. Meeting the monthly mortgage or rent when you’re short on funds, being laid off and not having saved for emergencies, putting your kids through college, or paying for that operation for your mother can all contribute to rising stress levels.

Simply making ends meet has become a continual source of stress for the great masses of society. Spending more than you take in, having what they call a champagne taste on a beer budget, will bite you time and time again.

Being alone. Have you lost your partner? Or are you struggling to find a mate? Did someone who matters leave or is stationed far away? Being alone can be stressful for people and lead to all types of aberrant, if not unhealthy, behavior.

Not having time alone. The opposite of being alone, if you never get a spare moment to think, to relax, or to reflect, a mounting form of stress can ensue. The prototypical “super parent” who gets the kids ready for school in the morning, holds a full-time job, and barely gets home in time to take care of the kids again, can fall into this category. Both super dads and super moms can have equally taxing challenges, which result in a long-term, mounting form of stress.

Your physical self. Like many, do you perceive yourself as too fat, too thin, or too something else? One report showed that more than one-third of all men and even higher numbers of women are fairly discontent with various aspects of their physical selves and would like to make major changes ( Body Image journal, 2016).

To compensate for perceived deficiencies in their physical self, some people will starve themselves to death. Others will eat themselves to death. Some will go on binges, and some will go on feast and famine diets.

Chemical substances. Do you smoke, drink, or take drugs? Enough said.

Other stressors. Add your own here, based on what you do, with whom you do it, when you do it, for how long you do it, and so forth. The point is there are many, many ways to experience major amounts of stress in this world.

Now that you you’ve catalogued your stressors, make a short list, perhaps three to five items, of what you will do to counteract such stressors. Visit for stress-reducing ideas.

Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC, is principal, Breathing Space® Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina ( or An author and presenter on work-life balance, he holds the world’s only registered trademark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office as “The Work-Life Balance Expert.”®