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.
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 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 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 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.
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Muscle aches
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle tension or jaw clenching
- High blood pressure
- Stomach or digestive problems
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Inability to focus
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Poor judgement
- Being pessimistic
- Overeating or not eating enough
- Avoiding responsibilty
- Using alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Having more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
Working out regularly helps relax your body and mind. It is proven to be a great stress reliever, so make sure you get enough physical activity each week.
When stressed, your muscles tense up. Relaxing your muscles will not only make you feel better but will also help relieve your stress.
Deep breathing allows you to calm your mind and body because it quiets your sympathetic nervous system.
Proper nutrition is key to combating stress. This is because certain foods can either reduce your stress or make it worse.
It is important to set aside time for things you enjoy. Having “me” time will help release your stress.
A lot of the time we hide our feelings, but opening up to someone is crucial in reducing stress and receiving comfort.
Downtime allows your brain to relax and gives your mind time off from stress. Take a break from life’s chaos because you and your mind deserve it.
We are often too hard on ourselves, which causes stress. It is important to accept imperfections and take it easy.
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!
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.
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.
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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