Types of Stress You Must Know About

Did You Know?
Laughing can help you manage stress by lowering the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline.
In today’s fast-paced competitive world, stress is unavoidable. It is our body’s instinctive response to a particular situation, thought, or feeling. Stress can come from various sources, right from a hectic work schedule to the loss of a loved one or a troubled relationship. Irrespective of the source, stress can always be managed with lifestyle changes, and a change in the way we perceive a particular stressor.

For example, a work-related change can be perceived by some as an opportunity to learn new things, while others may feel anxious as they have to learn new things and face new challenges. So, our reaction to a particular stressor depends to a great extent on how we perceive it. Stress can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’, though the term ‘stress’ is usually used to mean only bad stress. Apart from good and bad stress, there are several other types of stress you must know about for better and efficient stress management.

Types of Stress
Women in interview
Eustress is the positive form of stress. It is the good stress that can stimulate a person to perform better by making him or her work and think faster. A person can perceive a particular situation, such as a new job, or meeting a famous personality, as exciting as well as inspiring. This type of stress is termed as eustress, and is not physically and psychologically harmful for an individual. Rather, this type of stress can have a positive effect on the health and performance of an individual, at least in the short run.
Distress, or what we commonly term as stress, is the type that has a negative effect on our health and emotional well-being. Distress often produces intense emotions, like anger, irritation, fear, and anxiety or panic. Sometimes, distress can also manifest in physical symptoms, like palpitation, shortness of breath, and a rise in blood pressure.

Distress or ‘bad stress’ can be further classified into three types – acute distress, acute episodic distress, and chronic distress.

➤ Acute Distress
Acute distress is the most common type of stress that comes suddenly, leaving you terrified and perplexed. Though acute stress lasts only for a short duration, it almost always demands a response. Acute stress often produces the ‘flight or fight’ response in an individual. A job interview, or an exam for which you have not prepared adequately are some examples of acute stress. The symptoms of acute stress can be easily identified. Such symptoms can include emotional distress, headaches, migraines, increased heart rate, palpitation, dizziness, shortness of breath, cold hands or feet, and excessive sweating.
Student in stress
➤ Acute Episodic Distress
The term ‘acute episodic stress’ is usually used for a situation when acute stress becomes the norm. So, acute episodic distress is characterized by frequent episodes of acute stress. People having this type of stress often find themselves struggling to organize their life and complete the never-ending list of things to be done. They often put unnecessary demands and pressure on themselves, which can eventually cause restlessness and irritability.

People suffering from acute episodic distress are always in a hurry. This type of stress can cause work-related problems, besides deteriorating interpersonal relationships. The most common symptoms of acute episodic stress are irritability, persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, and chest pain.

Woman having headache
➤ Chronic Distress
Chronic distress is the stress that persists for a long time. Chronic stress usually stems from a long-lasting event or circumstance that cannot be controlled. Poverty, feeling trapped in a detestable career, a troubled relationship, and a traumatized childhood experience are some examples of events or circumstances that can cause chronic stress.

Chronic stress often creates a sense of hopelessness and misery, and can wreak havoc on both physical and mental health. Mental and physical exhaustion resulting from chronic stress can sometimes cause health problems like, heart attacks and strokes. It can also lead to depression, violence, and suicide in extreme cases. Perhaps the worst aspect of chronic stress is that people get used to this type of stress, and so it is often ignored or treated as a way of life. Treating chronic stress is not easy; it usually requires medical and behavioral treatment, along with stress management techniques.

Unhappy Young Couple
Other Classifications
Sometimes stress or distress is classified into several other categories, like physical, chemical, emotional, mental, traumatic, and psycho-spiritual. Dr. Karl Albrecht, a management consultant, lecturer, and author has defined four types of stress in his book, ‘Stress and the Manager’. These four types of stress are known as time stress, anticipatory stress, situational stress, and encounter stress.
Man running out of time
Time stress is the stress experienced when we are running short of time or have a lot of things to do in a given period of time. Anticipatory stress is the stress that we experience concerning the future. Situational stress is usually caused by an intimidating situation that is beyond our control. On the other hand, when we feel anxious about meeting and interacting with a specific person or a group of people, it is termed as encounter stress.

So, stress can be of several types, and accordingly its treatment and management can differ considerably. The first step of stress management is to identify the type of stress you are experiencing, as well as the type of stressors (events and thoughts) that are creating the stress. Once you have identified the particular stressors, you can take appropriate measures to control or manage them. Meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques, along with a positive attitude towards life can help a lot in controlling stress. But sometimes, professional help may be required to eliminate or control the factors that trigger stress, especially if it is taking a toll on your physical and mental well-being.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.