We all feel, live, and breathe stress. Life is filled with experiences or situations that will either make us or break us, and with either outcome, anxiety and stress can still arise. According to the American Psychological Association, there are three types of stress:
- Acute stress
- Episodic Acute stress
- Chronic stress
Each has its own set of unique characteristics, symptoms, durations, approaches and should be handled differently. Let’s take a deeper dive into the three different types and learn how we can distinguish which stress we are experiencing!
Acute Stress is the most common one we experience because it’s rooted in our past and expectations of the future. This short-term distress can be caused by something as little as forgetting an item at the grocery store, a fender bender on the highway, or a loss of an important paper. It doesn’t have enough time or enough “pressure” to create a long-lasting effect on our bodies, however, with acute stress, we can get upset stomachs or headaches starting in our neck. Most of the symptoms are highly treatable and manageable, and one of the most common types we endure.
Episodic Acute Stress is a heightened and frequent form of Acute stress. Always running late even when they’re in a rush. Over-booking, overexerting, irritability, and anxiety are some ways to describe someone dealing with Episodic Acute stress. Always nervous and worrying about the future or something that has occurred in the past. Episodic Acute stress is triggered by a belief inside them that the world or others are out to get them and make others or experiences accountable for their feelings. They are often classified as worrywarts or “awfulizers”, and in reality, they are struggling with anxiety and depression versus anger and hostility. Chest pain, migraines, hypertension, shortness of breath are some physical symptoms of Episodic Acute stress and the APA suggests a treatment plan of receiving professional help.
Chronic stress is living with anxiety and tension all day, every day. This is the type of stress that wears and tears your days, your mind, and yourbody. This is the stress of poverty, worry of family members, and/or the feeling of being “trapped” in a situation. Chronic stress comes from when someone sees a situation as their forever reality. It is the feeling or the idea that they can’t meet the demands and pressures of their days. Chronic stress can be stemmed from childhood or traumatic experiences that are unhealed and need to be mended. Chronic stress can lead to severe depression, violence, heart attacks, physical deuteriation of the body and mind.
Long story short, be aware of your stress and learn to break the patterns of old beliefs, past trauma, and experiences, to move forward and onward just as you deserve. Life is not meant to be difficult, but we endure hardships for a greater reason: to grow and to embody the best version of ourselves.