Stress Awareness Month
It’s Stress Awareness Month, and that means it’s time to bring attention to the different types of stress and how to cope with them.
What are the different types of stress?
There are four main types of stress: physical, emotional, mental, and social. These can be chronic or acute. It is important to know the many different types of stress in order to know how to cope with them. Different types of stress impact our lives in various ways and each has different coping strategies.
Chronic and Acute
The first thing to know about our stress is that it can be chronic or acute. An acute stressor is something short lived and doesn’t stick around for long. Chronic, on the other hand can hang around for long periods of time. Months, years or the span of a lifetime. The two may not be exclusive, either. A single event could cause both. Take a car accident for instance. The emotional shock of the accident and financial stressors may subside fairly quickly but we may be left with nagging injuries that could take longer periods of time to heal.
Physical stress is caused by an external force, such as a car accident or a fall. It causes physical harm to our bodies. This type of stress can very easily lead to the other types of stress on this list. Depending on the severity of injuries, you may need to seek a physician’s guidance to help the healing process along and begin to cope with this type of stress.
Emotional stress is caused by internal factors, such as anxiety or depression. We don’t have to let our diagnoses define us but accepting that they are a part of us is the first step to coping with the stress they can cause. Talking through your emotional stressors with a Mental Health Professional can help you begin forming a plan and mental “tool box” to manage life with high levels of emotional stress.
Mental stress is caused by cognitive factors, such as worries or concerns. These worries and concerns can come from many sources. Finances, weather, work projects and even the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. It’s hard to avoid all worry in our day to day life as a certain amount just comes with our responsibilities. A Mental Health Professional can help us with finding the root cause of our concerns and offer coping mechanisms to help relieve some of the pressure they make us feel.
Social stress is caused by interpersonal relationships, such as conflict with a friend or co-worker. This can be especially hard as the people that can make us feel a lot of stress are often a part of our support groups. A disagreement at home or at work can very quickly make us feel isolated and alone, further adding to the stress it makes us feel. Talking through these conflicts with a Mental Health Professional can help us look at situations from different angles. Therapists help their clients develop a robust skillset of interpersonal skills to help navigate rough patches in communication.
Each type of stress has its own unique symptoms and effects on the body. For example, physical stress can lead to muscle tension and headaches. Emotional stress can lead to further anxiety and depression. Mental stress can lead to forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Social stress can lead to social withdrawal and isolation. No matter the stress you are experiencing, there is support available.
There are also many different ways to cope with stress. Some people use coping mechanisms, such as exercise or relaxation techniques. Others are prescribed medications or therapy. And still others find that making lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep or eating a healthy diet, helps to reduce their stress levels.