Types of Stress

A quick guide to the different types of stress.

We hear a lot about stress in the media these days. The word is often used in headlines but there is often a misconception that stress is always a bad thing.

In fact, some types of stress are healthy and can help motivate us in our daily lives. Our guide to stress types below is intended for informational purposes only – so if you require advice on any aspect of your health, then it’s important to consult a qualified medical professional.


Everyday stress

Stress isn’t always a bad thing or a negative thing. It’s the motivator that helps us to perform at our best in job interviews and exams. It’s also the factor that pushes us out of bed in the morning and into work on time.

Small amounts of stress are a fact of life, and in small doses we’re often only barely aware of it. It’s when stress builds up that it can be problematic.

Workplace stress

We’re under pressure to perform – and many of us thrive on this pressure. Meeting deadlines and getting results can also mean relief from this pressure.

However, if the phone is ringing constantly while a pile of work is also waiting to be done – and the hours seem to be flying by without enough getting done – it’s natural to feel stressed.

This is where stress management comes in. There are some useful guides online for managing this type of stress – try this helpguide.org set of tips to start off with.

According to a recent UK health insurance provider survey, around half of senior managers in  the workplace are affected constantly (or-near-constantly) by stress, while just under a quarter of other employees have the same amount of stress.

Acute stress and chronic stress

As I mention above, some work stress is manageable, however when stress is constant it presents a problem. Chronic stress has a number of symptoms which can include the following:

  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Worrying
  • Lack of sleep

According to the mental health charity Mind.org.uk, stress isn’t a mental health diagnosis – but it is linked to mental health. This means that if stress goes unchecked for too long a period of time, the individual experiencing the stress may be more at risk of depression or anxiety.

Stress can also be problematic for health since it is sometimes connected with unhealthy coping behaviours such as drinking, smoking and overeating.

On the other hand, acute stress is that which is experienced for a short period of time. In some cases – such as when someone experiences a traumatic event, it can have lasting effects. But in many cases it’s innocuous – such as those times when you go on a rollercoaster or do exciting new things.

Further reading

“Britain’s workforce faces a stress epidemic” – AXA PPP healthcare survey, February 2015

“Stress management” guide by Oxford Brookes University

Managing Stress Can Improve Company performance” Bloomberg

Main image by Mike Hoff @ Flickr

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