Stress Awareness

What is Stress?

April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress can be defined as physical, mental, or emotional strain caused by a stressor. Occasional stress is a normal coping mechanism. However, long-term stress can have a negative impact on one's physical and mental health. It is important to recognize what stress looks like and to learn how to properly manage it. Keep reading to learn more about the types of stress, the symptoms of stress, and how to manage stress.


55% of Americans are stressed during the day

77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health

Only 28% of Americans say they are managing their stress extremely well

What are the Types of Stress?

According to American Psychological Association, stress can be divided into three primary types: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Each type of stress has their own characteristics, symptoms, duration, and treatment.

Acute Stress

Acute stress is the most common type of stress and is classified as short-term. It is caused from your body’s reaction to an immediate perceived threat. The threat can be a mild stressor like an approaching deadline, or it can be more serious like getting pulled over. We can even experience acute stress when we do something we enjoy like riding a roller coaster. Acute stress can be easily managed; however, repeated instances of acute stress can take a toll on your health.

Episodic Acute Stress

Episodic acute stress is when you experience frequent and consistent periods of stress. It is common among people who take on too many responsibilities and are often under a lot of pressure. Episodic acute stress also effects people who experience frequent high-stress situations, like healthcare workers. Typically, this type of stress is seen in people who worry a lot of the time and are naturally anxious.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is defined as constant stress over a long period of time. This type of stress feels never-ending, and it may feel difficult to see an escape from the cause of the stress. Examples that cause chronic stress include long term poverty, unhappy marriage, unemployment, and poor work environment. Chronic stress is the most harmful type of stress and if it is left untreated, it can significantly damage your physical health and mental health.


Many of the symptoms for each type of stress overlap, so listed below are the most common physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of stress.

Physical Symptoms

  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension or jaw clenching
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach or digestive problems

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Inability to focus
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Poor judgement
  • Being pessimistic

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Overeating or not eating enough
  • Procrastinating
  • Avoiding responsibilty
  • Using alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
  • Having more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Stress Management


Live-streamed Class

Relax Class

Join the GatorCare Wellness Team’s 15-minute live-streamed Relax class on Tuesdays at 12 PM. This class focuses on breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation. Guided meditation and relaxation techniques are a great way to manage and reduce stress!

Relax Logo

Ted Talk

How To Make Stress Your Friend

Watch Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk on the upside of stress. This TED Talk aims to change your perspective on stress and to view it as a positive. New research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case.

ted talk

Fitness class


Looking for a fun way to get active in order to relax your body and mind? Join Zumba, the ultimate dance fitness party! Zumba boosts your energy and mood by combining cardio, muscle conditioning, balance, and flexibility. Zumba is free to UF Health Shands and UF employees.


Gatorcare Members Only


Communicate with a licensed mental health provider through Talkspace, an online confidential service. GatorCare members ages 18+ are eligible to receive free and unlimited online counseling and psychiatry services through Talkspace, and members ages 13+ are eligible for free, unlimited counseling services.


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