There are several different types of stress, but the two main categories are psychological and physical stress.
Emotional stress is what most people typically associate with the word stress, where external factors cause an emotional reaction in the body, while physical stress refers to external factors that have an effect on the body’s physiology or physiology (for example, the immune system).
Both can be incredibly harmful to your health if they become chronic, but they are treated differently depending on the type of stress you experience.
To learn more about the different types of stress and how to cope with them, keep reading below!
Also see: What is Anxiety, Why Is Stress Management Important, and 7 Foods to Avoid With Anxiety.
What is stress?
Stress is a feeling of emotional, physical, and psychological tension that occurs through thought or an event that makes you feel angry, nervous, or disappointed.
Stress is your body’s natural reaction to a demand or a challenge. This can be both good and bad. For instance, positive stress can help you meet a deadline or achieve a goal. It’s often the kind of stress that makes you perceive it as an opportunity for greater outcomes.
On the other hand, negative stress is the exact opposite. If not controlled, it may lead to various health issues both mentally and physically, some of which you may not know.
Different types of stress:
Stress manifests in so many different ways, some of which you may not even realize. Some of the types of stress are:
Psychological stress is the body’s response to mental pressure. It can result from a variety of factors, including work-related stress, family conflict, and financial problems.
Psychological stress can lead to a number of physical health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.
It can also cause mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. There are a number of ways to treat psychological stress, including therapy, relaxation techniques, and exercise.
Emotional stress is a type of psychological stress that can make you feel on edge, like something bad is about to happen, and make it difficult to focus on your day-to-day activities.
People commonly associate emotional stress with feeling stressed out or tense, but these terms can be misleading as most of us don’t really know what emotional stress actually feels like.
For example, some people get headaches as a result of emotional stress, but others don’t experience any physical symptoms at all – they just feel that something isn’t right in their bodies and minds.
Physical stress is the body’s response to any demand, such as an injury or infection. When you are physically stressed, your body releases hormones to help you deal with the situation.
This can lead to physical symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, sweating, and increased blood pressure. If you are constantly under physical stress, it can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
More stress relief related articles:
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Key signs of stress affecting mental health:
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), depression is a condition characterized by persistent and severely low mood.
A stressful situation can increase your risk of developing depression if you are not coping with stress well. In one study, researchers found that both acute and chronic forms of stress could result in depression in over 800 women.
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress and a common sign of intense stress, whether chronic or acute. It’s a feeling of dread, fear, uneasiness, and worry.
Unlike depression, anxiety is characterized by overwhelm rather than sadness. It might cause you to have a rapid heartbeat, sweat, and feel restless with so much tension.
For example, if you find yourself feeling anxious when faced with a difficult situation like making an important decision or facing challenges at the workplace, it’s a sign of high-stress levels.
If not controlled, one may end up with anxiety disorder and even depression.
Workplace challenges are one of the leading causes of stress and anxiety, and sometimes, reaching out for help can be beneficial instead of waiting for a full-blown disorder.
In one study, researchers found that most anxiety and depression are work-related.
3. Memory and concentration deficit
Are you having trouble focusing and remembering things? Or have you tried to remember details of a stressful occurrence in the past, but you don’t seem to remember anything? It can be frustrating, but that is what happens when you are stressed.
Research has found that too much stress affects spatial memory, storage, and retrieval of information within the brain.
Spatial memory is simply a cognitive map. It’s associated with orientation in a familiar space, such as when a spatial memory is needed to navigate a town that you’re well conversant with.
Another study discovered that spatial memory was connected to the stress hormone cortisol.
Stress may also impede memory retrieval. So if you find yourself forgetting things that you should otherwise remember easily, monitor your stress tendencies.
4. Mood swings
While mood changes can be completely normal, some could be due to too much stress.
Too much distress can cause anxiety which can then result in mood changes. This is because when you’re anxious, you become more emotionally alert, which makes you hyper-responsive and hyperaware of situations, emotions, people, and even the environment.
Besides, anxiety causes a loss of important nutrients involved in mood regulation processes. This occurs because the nutrients are being driven to other organs such as the lungs, heart, and brain to produce the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline.
You can easily overcome this anxiety and prevent further mood changes by doing simple exercises like deep breathing and increasing potassium intake. For instance, you can take a banana to help calm you down.
5. Compulsive behaviors
This refers to persistent behaviors, thoughts, and urges despite them negatively affecting your health, relationships, and job.
According to research, chronic stress can cause changes in the brain that promote addiction-forming behaviors.
Anger and irritability are key signs in someone who is stressed. Irritability is the feeling of agitation, frustration, or anger over small things that would usually not bother them.
In other words, it’s an excessive reactivity to a negative emotion, resulting in aggression, anger, and frustration,
Physical signs of stress
The mental and emotional effects of stress are the most well-known. However, too much stress can show in your body in various ways.
These may include:
Excessive stress triggers more oil production from your oil glands, leading to clogged pores, breakouts, and acne.
One study involving university students found that during exams, when stress levels were high, students experienced severe acne.
Another cause of acne when stressed could be due to too much touching of the face associated with stress. This introduces bacteria to the face that may cause acne.
2. Digestive issues
Research shows that too much stress can result in digestive symptoms such as heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea. In fact, increased symptoms of digestive distress have been associated with daily elevated stress levels.
In a 2010 study, stressful events were shown to cause constipation.
Furthermore, stress has also been linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In one study, researchers found a direct link between stress and IBS, including its development and worsening of symptoms.
3. Changes in appetite
When stressed, you may often find yourself overeating or without appetite. That’s why most stress-eating people tend to gain weight during stressful periods, while others lose it.
However, research shows that gender plays an essential role as women turn to food for comfort while men prefer smoking and alcohol.
A study found that out of 81 participants in a study to experiment appetite changes in stress, 62 of them experienced weight gain.
In another study, elevated cortisol and high chronic stress levels were associated with weight gain. However, more research is needed to understand this mechanism.
Stress is a common trigger for tension headaches, especially frontal headaches. These are often associated with mild to moderate pain with a sensation of pressure or tightness across the forehead. These usually occur when your scalp muscles contract or become tense due to stress.
In one study, increased stress levels were associated with an increase in headaches experienced per month.
How to relieve symptoms of stress?
If you are experiencing any of these stress symptoms, there are a few things you can do to help manage them. Some of these include:
1. Taking breaks from your phone or any other devices
When you’re constantly looking at your screens, you’re not giving our brains a chance to rest. This can lead to increased levels of stress.
Make sure to take breaks throughout the day to give your mind a break. Even just putting your phone away for an hour can make a big difference.
2. Conducting deep breathing exercises
When you’re feeling stressed, one of the quickest and easiest things you can do is take some deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, then out through your mouth. Repeat this several times until you feel your body start to relax.
3. Taking breaks from the news
Hearing about the latest global pandemic or political unrest can trigger feelings of anxiety and stress. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a break from the news and give yourself some time to relax.
Maybe read a book, take a walk outside, or meditate for a few minutes. Just remember that it’s important to stay informed, but you don’t need to consume the news 24/7.
4. Getting enough sleep
Most people need around eight hours of sleep per night. Consider going to bed and waking up at the same time each day to help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
Establish a bedtime routine by winding down 30 minutes before bed. At this time, you can turn off electronics and lights. Also, keep a cool, comfortable environment in your bedroom for optimal sleep.
5. Increasing nutrient-rich foods
When you’re feeling stressed, your body is in need of some extra love and care. One of the best ways to do this is by increasing your intake of nutrient-rich foods.
This means incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet. Not only will these foods help improve your physical health, but they’ll also give you a mental boost thanks to their high levels of vitamins and minerals.
6. Avoiding substance abuse
Alcohol and drugs may seem like they offer an escape from your stressors, but they will only make your problems worse in the long run. Not only can substance abuse lead to addiction, it can also worsen your mental and physical health, making it harder to cope with stress. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, get help from a professional treatment program.
7. Spending some time in nature
Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase feel-good hormones like serotonin.
Just a few minutes spent outside can help clear your mind, improve your mood, and boost your energy levels.
So go for a walk in the park, take a break to watch the birds at your feeder, or simply sit outside and soak up some sunshine.
8. Talking to a friend or a therapist
When you keep everything bottled up, it can make things feel a lot worse. Talking to someone who will understand and can offer helpful advice can be a huge relief.
If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, consider seeing a therapist.
Final thoughts on the different types of stress:
Stress is part of everyday life, and there’s no way to avoid it completely. While stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, when it’s extreme or chronic, it can lead to severe health problems, both physical and mental.
To prevent this from happening, it’s important to learn what different types of stress are out there and how you can cope with them appropriately.
Some signs of excess stress like irritability, anxiety, loss of focus, concentration, and compulsive behaviors are common.
However, it may be difficult to tell when it presents as acne, headache, digestive issues, and a change in appetite. If suffering any of these symptoms, try the above listed techniques.
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