Stress: The Cause, Types, & Management

  • Stress is a reaction of the body to forces of a physical, mental, emotional, and deleterious nature, infections, and various abnormal states. 
  • Four major types: Acute stress, Episodic acute stress, Chronic stress, and  Eustress 
  • Tips to Manage Stress: Identify your stressors, Practice relaxation techniques, Exercise regularly, Get enough sleep, Healthy diet
Stress- Sad and depressed woman

What is stress?

Stress is a reaction of the body to forces of a physical, mental, emotional, and harmful nature, infections, and various abnormal states that tend to disturb its normal physiologic balance.
The body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol when people experience stress which tends to cause physical symptoms like increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and muscle tension.

Cause of stress

Work-related stress

One of the possible causes of stress is work-related stress. This can be due to a heavy office workload, unrealistic deadlines from superiors, a lack of job satisfaction, or conflicts with colleagues. 

Financial challenge

Another reason people are stressed out is due to financial challenges, financial stress is another significant cause of stress, particularly in the current economic climate where many have increased debt, and job loss due to company downsizing. All these tend to immense stress and anxiety.


Relationship issues, especially when people have displeasure and misunderstandings with a family member, a broken relationship or marital problem, or strained relationships with friends or coworker, can lead to chronic stress. Life changes such as divorce, the death of a loved one, or a move to a new city can cause stress.

Lifestyle factor

Lifestyle factors can also contribute to stress. Inadequate sleep, poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, and substance abuse can all increase stress levels. Moreover, certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, pessimism, or low self-esteem can increase one’s susceptibility to stress.

Four Major Types of Stress

There are different ways to categorize stress, but one commonly used classification divides stress into four major types: Acute stress, Episodic acute stress, Chronic stress, and  Eustress.
1. Acute stress: This is a short-term stress response that is triggered by an immediate threat or challenge. Examples of acute stress include narrowly avoiding a car accident or meeting a tight deadline.
While acute stress can be useful in dealing with short-term challenges, excessive or prolonged exposure to acute can be harmful.

Signs & Symptoms of Acute Stress

  • Cause muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Fear 
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Become impulsive 
  • Agitated 
  • Withdrawal 
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Loss of appetite, 
  • Changes in social interactions.
2. Episodic Acute Stress: This type of stress occurs when individuals frequently experience acute stress.
People who are always in a state of urgency or consistently worry about things are more prone to episodic acute stress. This type of stress can lead to burnout and chronic health problems.

The signs and symptoms of episodic acute stress can include:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Increased irritability and anger
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Hypervigilance or being easily startled
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor judgment and decision making
  • Poor work performance
3. Chronic Stress: Chronic stress is a long-term stress response that persists over an extended period. It can be caused by ongoing stressors such as work pressures, financial difficulties, or relationship problems.
Chronic stress can have severe negative impacts on our physical and mental health.

Signs & Symptoms of Chronic Stress

  • Headaches
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Negative thought
  • Low sex urge
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Higher risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight gain (possibly due to stress eating)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Anxiety 
4. Eustress: This is a positive type of stress that results from positive experiences such as getting a promotion, starting a new job, or falling in love.
Eustress can be beneficial as it can motivate us, boost our performance, and help us grow.

Some signs and symptoms of eustress include:

  • Increased energy and motivation
  • Feeling confident and focused
  • Feeling excited about challenges and opportunities
  • Increased creativity and problem-solving abilities
  • Feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction
  • Feeling engaged and enthusiastic
  • Increased social interaction and enjoyment of relationships
  • Feeling a sense of meaning and purpose
  • Increased physical strength and stamina
  • Feeling a sense of joy and happiness

10 Tips to Manage Stress

Stress management
Stress management

1. Identify your stressors

Before you take any step in managing stress, the first thing to consider is to identify what is really causing the stress, once this is achieved, afterward you can now Keep a journal of your daily stressors and how they make you feel. Once you know what triggers your stress, you can take steps to manage it.

2. Practice relaxation techniques

Another technique after the cause of the stress has been identified — relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga can help you reduce stress. They can calm your mind and body, and help you focus on the present moment.

3. Exercise regularly

Exercise is one of the healthy ways to reduce stress. It releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Regular exercise can also improve your sleep, which is important for managing stress.

4. Get enough sleep

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. It helps us recharge and repair our bodies. Lack of sleep can make us more vulnerable to stress. Make sure you get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

5. Healthy diet

This is a simple way to manage stress, eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you manage stress.
Processed foods and sugary drinks can damage your health. Instead, focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This set of foods provides the nutrients your body needs to function adequately.

6. Stay connected with friends and family

Social support is essential for managing stress. Spending quality time with friends and family can help you feel less isolated, deprived, and more supported. It can also provide a sense of worthiness and purpose.

7. Set realistic goals

Setting realistic goals can help you feel more in control of your life. Break down big goals into smaller, achievable steps. Celebrate your progress along the way.

8. Manage your time effectively

Time management is key to managing stress. Prioritize your tasks and set realistic deadlines. Learn how to reject tasks that are not important.

9. Seek professional help

This is a delicate aspect of stress management, whenever you notice that you’re struggling to manage stress on your own, don’t hide yourself or hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide support and guidance.

10. Take breaks

Taking breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and refocus. Take a walk, listen to music, or read a book. Whatever helps you relax and recharge.

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