What Is Stress: From Understanding It to Managing It


What Is Stress From Understanding It to Managing It

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What is stress exactly? 1 2 Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the pressures of life? Do you find yourself sprinting from one task to the next, struggling to keep up with the never-ending demands of your daily routine? If so, you’re not alone. Stress is a common issue faced by people all over the world – and it can have a profound effect on our physical and mental well-being. 

According to the American Psychological Association, 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms caused by stress. With these staggering statistics, it is important to understand the different types of stress and how they affect our bodies. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what stress is and how it affects us.

Types Of Stress

Stress is a reaction to pressure from the outside world that can affect physical and mental health. It can be caused by both positive and negative events, such as getting married or losing a job. 

When it comes to the different types of stress we experience, there is eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress). Eustress is usually short-term and results in positive feelings such as excitement or motivation. Distress may be long-term in nature and often results in feelings of anxiety and/or depression. Additionally, there is physical stress (which can come from exercise or illness) and toxic stress (which is caused by prolonged exposure to stressful situations).

  • Acute stress is short-term and often happens in response to a challenging situation. It can be positive, like when you experience a sudden rush of energy or excitement during a presentation. This type of acute stress can help us stay focused, alert and motivated to take action. But it can also have negative effects like increased heart rate and difficulty concentrating if left unchecked.
  • Chronic stress is long-term, ongoing stress that lasts for weeks or months at a time. It causes hormonal shifts that trigger the body’s physical response to stressful situations. These include an increase in adrenaline and cortisol—also known as “stress hormones”—which can lead to fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, insomnia and digestive problems over time.
  • Episodic acute stress falls between acute and chronic stress in terms of duration and intensity. It occurs when we are exposed to multiple stressful events in rapid succession over a prolonged period of time such as work deadlines or family issues. The cumulative effect of this kind of repeated exposure leads to physical exhaustion and emotional burnout that can be difficult to manage without proper rest and healthy coping strategies.

Productivity requires us to strike a balance between responding appropriately to challenging situations with both positive reactions as well as avoiding negative effects from too much stress over an extended period of time. Understanding the different types of stress allows us to recognize its signs earlier on so we can proactively address them before they become overwhelming. 

By recognizing our own patterns of reacting under pressure we can identify which strategies work best for us individually when addressing these different types of stressors so we can stay productive while maintaining our mental health. With this knowledge, we can strive towards better equipping ourselves with the tools necessary for managing our responses more effectively in the future.

The Positive Aspects Of Stress

Stress can be beneficial in some cases. Social stress, such as a job promotion or a positive change in relationships, can be motivating and beneficial to an individual. Acute stress, such as running from danger or being startled, can also encourage quick action that helps protect someone from harm. In both cases, the consequences of the stress are ultimately positive for the person experiencing it.

Causes of internal stress, such as burnout or exhaustion from overworking, can also have positive outcomes for those who experience it. For example, a social worker who is feeling overwhelmed with their workload may take a step back and re-evaluate their priorities; this could lead to better time management and improved productivity.

In addition to providing motivation and protection from harm in certain situations, experiencing stress can help people learn how to manage it to avoid potential long-term health problems or physical symptoms caused by prolonged exposure to stressful situations. It’s important to recognize that while there are positive aspects of stress, it’s still important to take steps toward managing it to prevent any negative effects on our well-being.

The Negative Effects Of Stress

Like a double-edged sword, stress can bring great joy and opportunities to our lives, but it can also cause harm. Stress has been linked to various physical and mental health issues, making it important for us to be aware of the negative effects of stress.

  • Burnout
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Digestive problems
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Cognitive issues (memory, concentration)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

These are some of the negative effects that stress can have on our bodies and minds. It is important to know when we are in danger of experiencing burnout or other types of chronic stress so that we can reach out for professional help if needed. In addition, it is important to identify when episodic acute stress is harming our physical and mental health, such as headaches or anxiety. Taking steps toward managing our levels of stress can help protect us from these negative effects.

When To See Your Doctor

When it comes to stress, the line between manageable and overwhelming can be difficult to define. That’s why it’s important to know when to seek professional help. It’s especially critical if you’re experiencing burnout, episodic acute stress, or social stress.

Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion caused by long-term stress or overexertion. If you find yourself overwhelmed with feelings of worthlessness or helplessness, it may be time to talk to someone about your situation. Episodic acute stress can occur suddenly and last for days or weeks. This type of stress is usually caused by a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one or major life changes like job loss or divorce. If you’re struggling with intense feelings associated with an episodic acute event, consider talking to a therapist who can help you healthily work through them.

Social stress occurs when there are strong pressures from society that add additional burden onto your life. Whether this is due to gender expectations, financial strain, racial discrimination, or something else entirely—it’s important that you find support from professionals experienced in dealing with these issues. Don’t allow yourself to suffer in silence any longer; seeking professional help can give you the tools needed for managing the pressures of social stress more effectively going forward.

No matter what kind of stress you’re facing—burnout, episodic acute stress, social pressure—it’s essential that you take steps towards seeking professional guidance and understanding how best to manage it and live a healthier life overall.


In conclusion, stress is an integral part of our lives and one that we must learn to manage. It can have both positive and negative effects on us, depending on how we handle it. We must be aware of the warning signs of too much stress and when to seek medical advice if needed.

It’s estimated that 75% of all visits to the doctor are due to stress-related ailments, making it one of the leading causes of health issues in the US today. This statistic shows just how much our bodies are affected by stress, and how important it is for us to take steps to manage our own levels effectively.

Taking time out for yourself can help reduce your stress levels, as well as finding healthy ways to cope with stressful situations such as exercising or talking to a friend. I encourage you all to take steps toward reducing your own levels of stress and make sure you take care of yourselves both mentally and physically.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 types of stress?

There are three types of stress: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Acute stress is a short-term stress response that is triggered by an immediate threat, such as a car accident or a near miss. Episodic acute stress is when acute stress occurs frequently, and a person becomes overwhelmed by multiple stressors. Chronic stress is a long-term stress response that occurs when a person feels as if they have no control over a stressful situation. Chronic stress can lead to serious health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and heart disease.

What exactly causes stress?

Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including work, relationships, financial problems, health issues, and major life changes. When a person perceives a situation as threatening, their body releases stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare the body for a “fight or flight” response. While stress is a normal part of life, chronic stress can have negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

What is stress defined as?

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. It is the body’s natural response to a perceived threat or challenge. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors and can have both positive and negative effects on a person’s well-being.

What basically is stress?

Stress is a natural response to a perceived threat or challenge. When a person encounters a stressful situation, their body releases stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare the body for a “fight or flight” response. While stress is a normal part of life, chronic stress can have negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

What is stress management?

Stress management is the process of identifying and managing stress in a healthy and effective way. This can involve a variety of techniques, such as exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and time management. The goal of stress management is to reduce the negative effects of stress on a person’s well-being and improve their ability to cope with stressful situations. By developing effective stress management techniques, a person can improve their overall quality of life and reduce their risk of stress-related health problems.


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Latest articles in this topic: Introduction to Stress

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