Mental Health

Learn Stress Management With UR.Life To Combat Micro-stress

The daily frustrations and hassles of life can add up and take a toll on an individual's mental and physical health. Boost your well-being with these easy tips to manage micro-stress from UR.Life experts.

By URLife Team
17 Apr 2023

Most people think of stress as events associated with major life changes such as the loss of a loved one, moving homes, switching jobs, or dealing with a major illness. But many of us experience stress on a daily basis, whether it’s the bad traffic in the morning or that one colleague who won’t let us rest. These frustrations and annoyances can accumulate over time and take a toll on our mental health.

This type of stress is known as micro-tress, and it can have a significant impact on our overall health and performance. According to a 2023 review by Psychology Today, micro stressors are small, subtle stressors that can accumulate over time and have a significant impact on an individual's well-being and performance. They are often caused by everyday challenges such as dealing with a difficult co-worker, managing competing priorities, arguments with loved ones, waiting in line, or adapting to organisational change. While they may seem manageable on their own, these small stressors can accumulate over time, leading to burnout.


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The book The Microstress Effect by Rob Cross and Karen Dillon highlights the impact of micro-stress on our well-being. It's important to recognise that micro stressors can have a cumulative impact on an individual's mental and physical health, as well as their job performance. Therefore, it's crucial to address these stressors proactively and develop strategies to manage them effectively.


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Learning About The Impact of Micro-stress

The Microstress Effect shows what people go through or struggle with when it comes to micro-stress, and how it can affect individuals. Micro-stressor can lead to feelings of anxiety, irritability, and exhaustion, and ultimately impact productivity. The build-up of micro-stress can deplete our energy and damage our physical and emotional health. The effects of micro-stress can be felt in various aspects of our lives, including our work performance, personal relationships, and physical health.

1. Micro-stress causes weight gain: In a 2022 study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers found that even a relatively minor social stressor experienced within two hours of a meal can disrupt the body’s metabolism. The study found that when participants were exposed to a stressor before eating a high-fat meal, their bodies metabolised the meal differently than when they were not stressed. Specifically, the stressed participants had higher levels of insulin and triglycerides, which can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. When we are stressed, our body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and changes in appetite.

2. Micro-stress can be contagious: The authors of the book The Microstress Effect focus on the term 'emotional contagion'. Emotional contagion refers to the process by which individuals can catch the emotions of those around them, often unconsciously.

In the workplace, emotional contagion can occur when an individual is exposed to the emotions of their colleagues or superiors, feeling anxious or stressed because they are overwhelmed. This can result in a chain reaction of negative emotions that can ultimately impact the entire team or organisation.

3. Micro-stress drains energy: Micro stressors can have a significant impact on the ability to perform daily tasks, both at work and in your personal life. When constantly exposed to small stressors, such as a noisy work environment or a challenging commute, the brain can become overwhelmed and the ability to focus and make decisions can be affected. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and a sense of failure.

Additionally, when experiencing high levels of stress, the brain's ability to regulate emotions can be compromised, which can make it difficult to manage feelings and navigate interpersonal relationships. Some sources can be:

  • Interruption between collaborators on their roles or priorities
  • Uncertain about others’ reliability
  • Unpredictable behaviour of the boss
  • Impossible demands and high in volume
  • Overflow obligations at work or home

4. Micro-stress depletes emotional reserves: Micro-stress consumes a person's emotional reserves and affects their ability to focus, prioritise, and manage conflict. Some factors that are responsible for emotional drainage:

  • Feeling responsible for others
  • Argumentative discussions
  • Scarcity of trust among colleagues
  • Everyday gossip
  • Political manipulation


One of the challenges of micro-stress is that it can be hard to detect. We may not even realise we are experiencing stress until we are completely overwhelmed. This can make it difficult to manage and prevent the negative effects of micro-stress on our health and well-being.

However, by becoming more aware of the signs of micro-stress and taking steps to manage it effectively, we can reduce its impact on our lives.


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6 Strategies To Overcome Micro-stress

Remember that small, difficult moments are a normal part of life, but they don't have to control your well-being. It is important to recognise the cumulative impact of micro-stress and take steps to manage it effectively. By learning to identify and address micro stressors in our lives, we can reduce their negative effects and improve our overall quality of life.

By practising self-care, mindfulness, and prioritising tasks, it is possible to reduce the impact of micro-stress. If you're looking to address the micro-stresses in your life, below are a few steps you can take:

1. Identify your micro-stresses: Pay attention to the small, daily stressors in your life, such as traffic, email overload, or a messy home. Keeping a journal is a good way to track these stressors and identify patterns so that you can work on them.

2. Have genuine conversations: If a particular trigger is recurring, consider having a conversation with the person involved. For example, if your boss is routinely failing to communicate deadlines, bring it up in a meeting. This can help to address the issue and alleviate the stress.

3. Maintain distance from gossip-mongers: Try to limit your exposure to people who spread false news and cause stress. Rather, surround yourself with positive influences. If you can't avoid these people entirely, set boundaries and practice self-care to help mitigate their impact on your emotional well-being.

4. Diversify your personal life: Building a robust personal life can help to reduce the impact of work-related micro-stresses. Spend time with family and friends, and engage in hobbies and activities that you enjoy.

5. Set boundaries at work: Setting boundaries is a critical component of managing stress and maintaining our overall well-being. Set boundaries to prioritise our own needs and values, which can help to reduce stress and improve our ability to manage our time and responsibilities. When setting boundaries, we are sending a message that our needs are important and deserving of respect.

6. Practice meditation and mindfulness: Meditation and mindfulness can help to clear your mind and reduce stress, whether big or small. Set aside a few minutes each day to meditate, practise deep breathing, or engage in other relaxation techniques.


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Stress Management With UR.Life OHC

Seeking support from mental health professionals can be an effective way to build resilience and manage the impact of micro stressors on our lives. UR.Life's Corporate Wellness program is designed to provide employees with the resources and support they need to prioritise their mental health and well-being.

Through a range of interventions and targeted medical treatments, UR.Life's program can help individuals to build resilience, reduce stress, and improve their overall well-being. This may include access to mental health counselling, stress-reduction techniques, mindfulness practices, and other supportive services.


Mindfulness 101:Bring calm into your day with these daily tips. Sign up here.


Related story: A Guide On Anger Management


With the UR.Life Corporate Wellness programme, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you are able to bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.

Click here to learn more about the UR.Life Corporate Wellness programme and unlock better health.



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