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4 Types of Stress and How to Overcome It

Amber Murphy

It’s normal to deal with different types of stress in our everyday lives, and it’s not always something we can control. Whether it’s because of work or another factor entirely, stress is something that we experience now and then. There are four types of stress: chronic stress, acute stress, episodic acute stress, and emotional stress. It’s helpful to know which kind of stress you’re personally dealing with so you know which relaxation techniques can help you reduce your stress levels. In this article, we’ll be talking about the different types of stress.

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Four Types of Stress

1. Acute Stress

Acute stress is the type of stress that comes as quickly as it goes. It can throw you off balance to lose your focus momentarily. Examples of situations that trigger acute stress are intense arguments with a loved one or feeling inadequate after a challenging exam.

Acute stress is the type of stress that we deal with occasionally in our daily lives. It’s very common. It’s the type of stress that happens to everyone. Acute stress can also come in overwhelmingly good situations – a mixture of both fear and adrenaline. Of all the types of stress, this is the least you should worry about as the feeling passes eventually.

If there’s one thing you should be wary of with acute stress, it’s Severe Acute Stress, wherein it’s caused when you encounter a life-threatening circumstance and can also lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Every time you experience acute stress, effective relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, meditation, cognitive reframing, and progressive muscle relaxation.

When doing a breathing exercise for this type of stress, make sure that your count for your exhale is longer than the inhale, as exhaling is what minimizes stress.

You can try a guided meditation for stress or follow along to a stress-relief video on YouTube to help you ease the anxiety that comes from acute stress. Practicing meditation daily can help you better manage stress over the long term to minimize the effects of this type of stress.

types of stress acute

2. Episodic Acute Stress

Another type of stress is Episodic Acute Stress. Feelings of anxiety and worry about things you assume will happen to you cause this type of stress. You have this underlying feeling that something terrible is about to happen in your life.

Individuals who tend to be anxious, depressed, or temperamental tend to experience this type of stress. They tend to have a negative and pessimistic outlook on life and people, and this includes themselves.

As a result, they always assume the worst in most situations, even before anything terrible even happens. Like chronic stress (which we’ll dive into next), this type of stress can develop into physical symptoms and diseases if not managed carefully.

You can effectively manage this type of stress by making specific lifestyle changes like exercise and diet. Finding a therapist who could work with you to shift your mindset and perspective into a more positive light could also be helpful for episodic acute stress.

Often, people who experience episodic acute stress tend to catastrophize. Those with negative thoughts will continue thinking about their thoughts and blow them up, leading them to worst-case scenario thinking. When a negative thought arises in your mind, think of an objection to it by introducing evidence against it. Doing so will help rewire the brain into positive thinking so you can experience happy thoughts.

episodic stress

3. Chronic Stress

The third type of stress is chronic stress. Chronic stress is something we all experience and can result in mental fatigue and burnout if not managed carefully.

Chronic stress can trigger a lot of physical and mental health problems if it’s not resolved quickly. Unlike acute stress, chronic stress is far more challenging to deal with, and it can feel inescapable. It can also be triggered by feelings of traumatic experiences in the past and applying them in the present situation. If not resolved, chronic stress can lead to diseases like gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases.

The way to minimize the pain of chronic stress is similar to that of acute stress. Still, it would help if you incorporated good habits like exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy relationships for more intense episodes. It takes patience to deal with chronic stress because, unlike acute stress, it won’t go away quickly.

It may also be helpful to find a therapist to minimize the side effects of chronic stress. Having a counselor, you can confide in will help an expert see where your thinking goes astray. Then, as a professional begins to know where the problem is rooted, you’ll start to learn coping skills through cognitive behavioral therapy or other therapeutic methods to help you combat the negative thinking that causes the chronic stress in your life.


4. Emotional Stress

Emotional stress can be challenging to cope with, just like the other types of stress, as this stress type affects the entirety of your emotions.

It causes a breakup or any other loss to affect all areas of our lives. If not dealt with properly, can hinder you from living your best life.

Resilience is the best approach when dealing with emotional stress. The more capable you are at handling difficult situations, the healthier you’ll be coping with this type of stress.

Other examples of emotional stress are when you feel overwhelmed by fear, worry, anxiety, guilt, resentment, or even anger, and it’s getting in the way of your daily tasks. For instance, emotional stress could include a problem in your marriage or losing a job.

Effective coping mechanisms for emotional stress include writing your thoughts in a journal, guided meditation, talking to a friend, finding a therapist, or listening to positive songs.

By learning how to deal with emotions, you can become better at minimizing emotional stress. Feelings are fleeting, so you’ll experience a range of them throughout the day. As your happy thoughts transition into negative thoughts, you’ll notice your emotions change along with them. Realizing how much power your thinking has over your emotions is a good starting point at figuring how to deal with emotions in the first place.

emotional stress

Five Ways To Overcome All Types of Stress

1. Physical Activity

Moving your body is one of the best ways you can deal with the types of stress effectively. Every time you move your body, whether through high-intensity exercise or even stretching such as yoga, both endorphins and dopamine release into your brain. Endorphins and dopamine are both hormones that make you feel good.

Making lifestyle changes is an effective relaxation technique that doctors, mental health experts, and friends recommend, no matter what type of stress you have.

Physical activity doesn’t always have to mean intense and long exercise, but even a 10-minute walk in the sunshine can do so much for reducing your stress levels.

Physical activity also helps you get out of your head and distract you just enough to reduce the overwhelming emotions and thoughts you’re having, especially for episodic acute stress and chronic stress. When you’re moving your body in nature, your thoughts tend to quiet down because you’re living in the present moment instead of your head.

Walking barefoot in your backyard can help you experience grounding, which is therapeutic and helps combat stress. Breathing in the air while walking in a forest is a great way to connect with nature and relax after a stressful day. In general, doing outdoor exercise is a great way to calm the mind when feeling stressed.

treating types of stress with exercise

2. Talk to someone

It’s so easy to talk to someone when you’re stressed, but it’s not always the first option that comes to our minds. Talking to someone relieves some of the stress and pressure you’re feeling, and it assures you that you’re not going out of your mind.

If you’re talking to someone you trust a lot, it helps you calm the mind and body when you speak to them about the type of stress you’re going through. They may even give you the advice that you need for the moment that helps you cope.

Not everyone is fond of talking to someone because, in this entire list, this is the one coping mechanism that takes a lot of bravery and courage to do. After all, opening yourself up to a stranger can make you feel vulnerable.

Especially for episodic acute stress, talking to someone helps others see things from your perspective and determine whether your mind is taking things too far or not. You can also choose to speak to a professional like a counselor when your stress becomes too overwhelming to bear, and you don’t know how to manage your feelings accordingly. A counselor will teach you the skills and coping strategies you’ll need so you won’t have to deal with the self-sabotaging you do when stress presents itself in your life.

2. Meditation

Meditation is a breathing exercise that allows you to focus on the present moment while helping you let go of your negative thoughts and emotions.

This breathing exercise allows you to build up the self-awareness you need to accept your thoughts for what they are. It’s the reminder that you are not your thoughts.

It’s also a practice where you incorporate mindfulness to better deal with the types of stress and anxiety you usually feel. Meditation allows you to focus on things within your control and let go of those you can’t.

For instance, meditation during chronic stress gives you the perspective to be calmer even amidst a problematic situation. Even if the circumstance doesn’t change, your way of handling the problem can be altered. And this could lead to happiness.

Those new to meditation might try following along to guided meditations using an app like Declutter The Mind, which is available on Android and iOS. You’ll find meditations to help you cope with various types of stress ranging from anxiety, sleep, and even PTSD.


4. Eat healthily

Mindful eating is the practice of nourishing your body, tasting your food by thoroughly chewing, and being present. Although this isn’t a known coping mechanism, making lifestyle changes such as your diet can help you manage your stress. Your mind and body are interconnected. When you pay attention to what you eat and choose to eat healthy foods, your mood and stress levels are also affected.

Individuals who have poor eating habits are more prone to stress and anxiety. It’s also why destructive choices like alcohol won’t help you. Your body needs nourishment from the foods you eat. So be sure to drink water regularly and eat foods with vitamins and minerals. Eating healthily also doesn’t mean restricting yourself. It’s also incorporating a well-balanced diet into your meals.

5. Sleep better

As another lifestyle change, being sleep deprived will leave you to be more prone to stressful circumstances and situations. There’s also a tendency to choose more inadequate coping mechanisms when you lack sleep and energy.

To deal with stress better in your life, you need to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern. You could be make the essential lifestyle changes like exercise and diet. However, that’s not enough. If you don’t do something to support your sleep pattern, you won’t cope with stress properly.

Most people need between 8-10 hours of sleep to rest their mind. By going to bed early, you’ll learn how to wake up naturally. Thus, waking up at a time where you feel rested instead of forced out of bed. A good night’s sleep supports all types of stress.

dealing with types of stress


This article shed insight into everything you needed to know about the types of stress you may experience. The more you’re aware of the stress types you’re currently dealing with, the better you can manage them effectively. Stress isn’t something you should automatically panic about. More often than not, you can reduce your stress levels with specific relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes. However, you start feeling overwhelmed, you can also opt to talk to a counselor about your thoughts and feelings.

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