Normal stress tests show you after completion your stress level and the likeliness for burn-out. Based on your information about how often you feel rushed per week, how you sleep, whether you experience back pain or headaches … These lists don’t say much. After all, you can have a lot of stress and at the same time be stress resilient, while others have fewer complaints and still experience it more intense.

It is important that you understand why you DO stress. Yes, you see this correctly, you do stress. It’s not only that we undergo stress, we contribute to it. A trigger occurs on the “outside” which we then translate on the “inside”, through thoughts and emotions, into a stress experience. Thus, the same event can have two different stress reactions for two different people.


Six human needs

Everything we do in life can be basically reduced to six drivers, six human needs that we try to fulfill through our doing. They determine what you think, do and feel. They make you do what you do, no matter how big or small. While people seem to be doing the same thing on the outside, the underlying motivation for doing it can have a completely different meaning.

In the case of stress, it is important to discover for yourself why you are “doing” it. For example, work can mean “certainty” for one person, knowing that income is generated on a regular base. For someone else, certainty is a given and is “significance”, the being seen by others, the motivation for his or her doing.


Below you will find the six fundamental human needs explained. While you may find several important, two will be predominant. If you know what these two needs are, you can maybe discover how they relate to what your doing. Maybe you can also think of possibilities of how these needs could be fulfilled in a different way. See for yourself which your predominant drivers are. You may already experience an “aha moment” and input for change simply because of thinking about your motives behind stress.



We all have a certain need for control and certainty. But this fundamental driver can also be overly present if you want to keep everything under control, want everything to be predictable so that you know what to expect. Too much of this driver can mean choosing the familiar and not trying anything new. It can be a barrier to your growth. In case of stress, with this motive you will do anything you can to get everything under control, even if it is impossible.



Another need we all have is the need for recognition and appreciation. By yourself, but also by others. Recognition is sort of a reward for what you do. For some, recognition means that he can distinguish himself from others by a symbol of status, such as a car. Others feel significant when they get compliments. Related to stress, this can translate into “look at me, I’m always so busy” behaviour or taking on too many / too big tasks to be appreciated by someone else.


Love / connection

As humans, we have a deep-seated need to connect with others, to belong to others and to be loved. The better you are able to connect with others, the healthier you are, physically, emotionally and mentally. Love and connection is a pretty essential human need. If your main driver is love and connection, you’ll take on stress quite likely, for example, for a good relationship with your manager or colleagues. Or simply for your family, so that you have a good life.


Uncertainty / variety

Freedom and variety seem almost at odds with the need for control and security (=certainty). Nevertheless, we have both needs within us. We need to feel free to do, think and feel what we want to. We look for variety to stimulate us. For example, you can notice this in the need to change surroundings, food and entertainment. With freedom and variety as your motivation for stress, for example, you constantly take on new challenges or take on many responsibilities simply not to be bored and to be challenged.



In contrast to the aforementioned needs, “growth” and “contribution” play a different role. Growth means that we continuously develop, in whatever way. If we don’t grow and develop, this often goes hand in hand with a lack of happiness or lack of satisfaction. If growth is your motivation in life, you will likey take on stress and tolerate work pressure since you want to develop further, in terms of knowledge and skills, or you want to achieve the next step in your career.



Contributing as a motivator means that what you do is not only useful for yourself but also for the greater whole. Whether this is for someone else, society in general or our planet. People who want to contribute feel the need that their actions matter, that they have meaning, whatever they do. With the motivation to contribute, you may be trying to do too much work. It can also manifest itself in dissatisfaction with the work content in case that is not fulfilling.