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Four Main Types of Stress

There are four main types of stress, and each type of stress has different characteristics. We will go over the 4 main types of stress, what they are, their common symptoms, and how to help you alleviate the negative stress in your life.

Four Main Types of Stress

  1. Acute

  2. Episodic Acute

  3. Chronic

  4. Eustress: Positive Sress

Acute Stress

Acute stress is the most common form of stress that we deal with in our day-to-day lives. These short bouts of stress trigger our bodies to release stress hormones. These hormones make us very alert and hyper-aware, and better equipped mentally and physically, to deal with whatever situation we’re in. There are usually no serious health effects, and states of Acute Stress are often seen as normal, healthy, positive responses to our environments.

As an example, looking for a job is usually very stressful, but it’s a necessary process to go through if you want to earn money. For many students, taking tests can be very stressful, but it’s also necessary for school if you wish to get a good grade. These types of stress are considered Acute Stress because once you get the job or pass the test, the stress goes away. 

Because it is considered short-term, acute stress doesn't have enough time to do the extensive physiological damage associated with long-term stress. It could take anywhere from half an hour to a couple of days to return to your normal resting state. Therefore, treatment of acute stress is not usually warranted. However, stress in general can cause certain reactions in the body such as those listed below. 

The most common symptoms of acute stress are: 

  • Increased heart rate 

  • Quickened breathing rate 

  • Higher blood pressure 

  • Upset stomach 

  • Headache 

  • Emotional outbursts such as anger or crying 

Episodic Acute Stress

Episodic Acute stress is usually due to having a disorganized lifestyle or having personality traits that are prone to worrying, perfectionistic, anxiety, tension, etc. Your outlook on life can really contribute to your stress levels, causing pressure to feel like you’re performing perfectly all the time or conforming to society’s standards, or simply just keeping up with life and its day-to-day activities. It’s called “episodic” acute stress because it happens when your outlook on life/personality traits, or bad habits trigger episodes of stress throughout your day. Your process of coping with life plays a huge part in Episodic Acute Stress. 

Usually, treatments to help reduce this kind of stress require some sort of behavioral change or professional help through behavioral therapy or clinical hypnotherapy. Whatever sort of therapy helps someone reach a more balanced approach to living is beneficial for people who go through episodic acute stress. Depending on the severity of the stress reaction, medical intervention may be appropriate. 

Chronic Stress

Stress that can’t be resolved quickly, increases in intensity, or lasts for a long time is considered chronic stress. It is constant, incredibly dangerous, and unhealthy. With prolonged exposure to stress hormones, chronic stress can be detrimental to your health if it isn’t resolved. Cortisol, in particular, can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, deregulate blood sugar levels, decrease libido, produce acne, contribute to obesity, and more.

In extreme cases of chronic stress states, the breakdown of your health may lead to serious physical and mental health issues such as heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, depression, and even suicide.

If you are experiencing chronic stress that makes you feel you will never find your way out, you may find one of our self help online classes helpful in your healing process. Check out what's available at

Chronic stress may stem from such things as: 

  • Poverty 

  • A dysfunctional family 

  • An unhappy marriage 

  • A bad job 

Eustress: Positive Stress

Eustress is stress that is good for you. It means beneficial stress—either psychological, physical (i.e.: exercise), or biochemical. The term was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, consisting of the Greek prefix "eu-" meaning "good", and “stress”, literally meaning "good stress". The experience of having Eustress is uncomfortable, but it leads to personal growth in some way. 

As mentioned earlier, while job-hunting is admittedly stressful, it may be considered positive stress, because while job hunting you learn some valuable skills, and gain experience. It also helps to reduce future stress when it comes to looking for a different job. Eustress helps you meet deadlines and focus on your concentration. 

Eustress has the following characteristics: 

  • Motivates & focuses energy 

  • Is short-term 

  • Is perceived as within our coping abilities 

  • Feels exciting 

  • Improves performance 

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." ~Norman Vincent Peale 

Changing Your Mindset

Sadly, the most common point of view towards stress is largely negative and debilitating. Mindsets towards stress can be changed to work in your favor though, and help you to handle stressful situations better than before. 

Examples of how our mindset can color our reality

Learning to recognize the signs within ourselves, helps us see the signs in our clients. From a place of self-mastery, may we begin to heal others who come to us for help and guidance. 

Perception of Reality 

One thing that can help when you’re faced with a problem, is to change your perception of whatever is bothering you. Many people are stubborn when it comes to their perceptions, and would much rather not change. We all want to believe we’re right in what we hear, see, and believe, but the truth is that perceptions can often be inaccurate, especially in a situation that is emotionally charged and personal. No one really wants to, but it’s beneficial to consider the ways in which your perceptions of the situation might be inaccurate. 

How you focus your attention affects your perceptions

Usually, if we have an idea, we look for evidence that supports that idea, and we completely toss it aside and ignore evidence that our ideas aren’t complete truths. This is called confirmation bias. As an example, if you believe you’re lucky whenever you wear your favorite red sweatshirt, you’re likely to focus on the times that that’s true, rather than the times that it wasn’t. This can also be applied to situations that involve political opinions, you’re more likely to find evidence that whatever you support is right than evidence that it’s wrong. You tend to look for and pay attention to evidence that supports your particular beliefs. 

Our perceptions of reality may safely be considered a contributing factor to the stress we experience in our daily lives. While it is not practical to wipe our minds clear of every perception or bias, we can begin to expand our abilities to encompass other ways of looking at the world around us. 

Try this:

One way of changing your perception is to check the evidence. Is the way you see the situation factual? Find a way to count or otherwise test out your thoughts in a more objective way. By expanding your understanding of any given situation, you may help yourself feel less stressed out about it. 


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