What are the types of stress in psychology?
When we hear the word stress, we tend to associate it with undesirable psychological experience. But the common belief does not always true. This is because stress may have two types: the good and the bad. But when does a stress become good or bad?
Before answering that question, let us define stress first. Although it may sound simple (because you hear it every day), stress is actually stemming from the complicated biological and psychological process.
What is stress?
Stress is a biological response of your body, especially in a threatening situation. This response varies in many people. Thus, no single situation can be considered stressful. A deadline or an approaching exam can be stressful for some but not for others.
In a stressful situation, a body prepares for it by releasing a considerable amount of stress hormones (e.g. cortisol). These hormones cause the body and mind more alert and vigilant. As soon as a stressful situation subsides, stress will also diminish.
A chronic stress, however, may cause mental and psychological problems. It could affect a person’s behavior and overall functioning. During a stressful situation, your body’s biological processes change. Your heart and brain work faster. These are just the natural responses that the body developed throughout evolution.
Is stress really bad?
As mentioned, stress is not always damaging to the body. In fact, stress helps you survive in a challenging and even in a threatening situation. It motivates you to beat the deadline. As a result, you were able to finish the assigned task.
Although stress is beneficial in some instances, it should be temporary. After a frightening situation, the biological process must return to a normal state. The blood pressure and heart rate must return to normal. You should be able to relax and gain a peaceful sleep.
But this is not always the case. Not all people were able to return to their normal biological and mental state. In fact, many people who experienced a traumatic event started to develop more serious psychological problems caused by a prolonged stress.
The inability to cope with stress may result in a more serious problem. When the stress hormones remain high in the body even after a threatening experience, a person may develop a PTSD. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a serious psychological problem that hunts many people after the 9/11 attack. Stress coping strategies are helpful to deal with stress effectively.
Types of stress
There are many types of stress in psychology. Here, are the different types of stress:
1. Acute Stress
This is the most common type of stress that people experience almost every day. It is the body’s response to daily demands and challenges including but not limited to deadlines, exams, job interview, etc.
This type of stress does not always negatively affect the body and mind. In fact, it can help you deal with it effectively. For instance, because you know that your major exam or a job interview is fast approaching, you prepare for it. As a result, you were able to handle the situation more effectively and successfully.
However, some people may have perceived the same situation in a negatively severe way. The way a person interprets a situation may affect the overall outcome. Thus, some people are more prone to stress than the others.
2. Episodic acute stress
Episodic acute stress happens when acute stress happens frequently. It could be a sign that a person was not able to deal the stress and control it. A person’s behavior in this condition may change. He/she may become short-tempered, anxious, irritable, and unable to control anger. The level of motivation to continue the assigned task may also be affected. People with episodic acute stress tend to become pessimistic rather than optimistic.
The problem in people with this type of stress is that they mostly unable to cope with their condition. This is because they cling to a belief that stress is already part of their life. Thus, it is hard for them to change their attitude and lifestyle.
3. Chronic stress
Chronic stress is a result of the unresolved acute stress. If acute stress lasts for a long period of time, it may be considered as chronic stress. It stems from a daily life experience as poverty, problematic marriage or relationship, unhappy job, health problems, and accidents.
Chronic stress can have a negative significant effect on your physical and psychological health. In many cases, this condition leads to heart disease, hypertension, and suicide.
How to manage stress?
Stress coping strategies can be tremendously helpful. There are many ways you can do to control stress in your life. Here are the basic stress management techniques:
- Engage in physical activities, eat healthy foods, and maintain sufficient sleep
- Share your emotional burden with others
- Find and cultivate social support
- Connect with nature
- Take a break from the things that cause you stress
- Lessen the consumption of alcohol and drugs
- Lessen the amount of caffeine intake every day
We all experience stress every day. It is something that we cannot avoid. But we all have what it takes to deal and control it effectively. Understanding what stressed you allows you to manage the stress more effectively.
I hope that this list of types of stress in psychology enlightens you the mechanism of stress. With the few tips mentioned above, I hope that you will be able to manage your daily stress and win in life!
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.