Updated: 2020, Jul 3

Types of Stress and Stress Management Misconceptions

Learn about different types of stress and let's look at some of the common misconceptions surrounding stress.
Types of Stress and Stress Management Misconceptions
Stress is part of everyone's life, but we don't all experience it the same way. (Image/Shutterstock)

Stress is an inevitable part of being human, but stress levels have been rising in recent years, and since people have become more health-conscious, many are turning to the internet to find ways to cope. This can be a stressful experience in and of itself since you’re bound to find all sorts of contradictory advice.

The term “stress” has become so common in conversation that we don’t even realize that different people mean different things by it. We don’t take into consideration the various types of stress, the sources if it really is stress or a symptom of something else. Then we reach stress management.

Everyone has an opinion on stress management. They’ll tell you that you need to meditate like them, spend more time in nature, exercise and change your diet. Or maybe it’s just your attitude. If you practice positive thinking, you’d be blissful and on top of all your problems. Because you’d be levitating.

You try different products and techniques that promise to “eliminate” stress, but they don’t seem to work as well as for the people that recommended them. Now you feel like a failure at stress management. There must be something wrong with you if you’ve tried everything and you’re still not perpetually calm. Well, no. It’s just that there are many misconceptions regarding stress and stress management, some of which we will try to clarify in this article.

Types of Stress

Everyday Stress

Everyday stress is the most common and least damaging type of stress. You probably experience it multiple times per day, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. Excitement, for example, is also a form of stress. When you feel like you can’t wait to go to a party or to see what you got for your birthday, you’re experiencing stress.

Everyday stress can also be a response to a real or perceived threat. You thought you might fall off your bike, but you didn’t. Threats don’t have to be very intense either. It can be something as simple as getting an unexpected phone call or running late to a meeting.

This type of stress may throw you off-balance temporarily, but it tends to subside fairly quickly. To calm down, you can do some breathing exercises for a few minutes and then try to reframe the situation rationally. Natural products like cannabidiol oil can also help in the long-term. CBD oil can help support the management of normal, everyday stresses that occur during the day, naturally and effectively.

In 2011, a study researched CBD’s effects on people with SAD. Participants were given an oral dose of 400 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD experienced overall reduced anxiety levels.

If you’re interested in trying CBD oil for your stress, talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out a starting dosage that’s right for you.

Chronic Stress

Long-term activation of your stress response can be very taxing to your health. You don’t get a chance to calm down as you would from acute stress, and this puts your body in a state of hyperarousal which leaves you feeling both restless and depleted.

Chronic stress usually stems from being in a situation where you feel you have no control, and you’re unable to find a solution. It can be financial problems, career challenges, unexpected health complications, etc.

Managing this type of stress requires more comprehensive approaches since it has a more profound effect on your body. In this case, you need to focus more on increasing resilience to stress rather than calming down momentarily.

Following a sleep schedule, exercising, and eating healthy food will mitigate some of the adverse health effects of chronic stress. Since chronic stress tends to negatively impact the regions of the brain responsible for regulating emotions, impulse control, and decision making, you may want to consider seeing a therapist and building a social support network. Chronic stress makes it harder to evaluate your situation rationally and having someone to talk to makes a big difference.

Burnout

Burnout is similar to chronic stress and is usually associated with overly demanding jobs. Certain factors like excessive workload, unclear expectation, dictatorial management style, lack of recognition for achievements and frequent reprimands can lead an employee to feel chronically overwhelmed and lacking control over their professional lives.

Once you reach a state of burnout, you’ll feel constantly tired, anxious, unmotivated, and trapped. The same strategies that work for chronic stress can be very useful when it comes to burnout. Moreover, since the cause is usually job-related, you can also take some time off, talk to your supervisors to bring more structure into your workday, set boundaries, or, when possible, change jobs.

Stress Management Misconceptions

“Eliminating” Stress

We tend to hear this a lot. We’re told we need to remove toxic people from our lives and “eliminate” stress by going straight to the source. The truth is that even if you tried, you wouldn’t be able to remove all the possible sources of stress from your environment. That’s why it’s called stress management – the idea is to learn how to “manage” stress, not get rid of it. Since stress is usually triggered by being confronted with a situation you don’t know how to handle, trying to “eliminate” the sources would be counterproductive.

As you overcome obstacles, it gives you a sense of confidence in your abilities. If you put all your effort into dodging anything difficult, gradually, things that you weren’t afraid of before will start to appear more challenging and “toxic.”

“It’s all about attitude!”

Some people (and by some, we mean many) seem to believe that the main difference between a stressed person and a serene one is attitude. You’ll find thousands of articles and books about how “positive thinking” will protect you from all the evils of the world. Although reframing a problematic situation helps us process our emotions and come up with better solutions, it doesn’t mean looking at things through rose-tinted glasses.

This concept can actually be harmful because it leads people to think that it’s their bad attitude that makes bad things happen to them. Instead of looking at their emotions as a normal physiological response to a challenging situation, they blame themselves for not working hard enough to stay positive.

The purpose of reframing is to gain insight, to get a balanced view. In this case, “neutral” is healthier than “positive”. Cognitive distortions, such as catastrophizing and generalizing, can result in a stronger stress response. When therapists encourage their clients to reframe an issue, they’re trying to encourage them to move past these instinctual cognitive distortions.

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