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  • Writer's pictureWiser Working

Know Your Enemy - 4 Types of Stress

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Many people associate being stressed with being overwhelmed. Overwhelm is an easily recognisable form of stress, however it is by no means the only form.

Stress can be insidious, slowly eroding our mental and physical health if it is left unchecked.

One of the reasons it can be hard to deal with, is because most people don’t fully know what stress looks like or when it may be affecting them.

In our resilience & stress management courses, we make clients aware of 4 different types of stress. This segmentation makes it much easier for people to understand how certain events or lifestyle choices may be causing them unseen stress.

We define stress as anything that places a demand on your body.

Here are the 4 types:

1. Psychological Stress: This is the type that is most familiar to people. It includes anxiety, anger, and resentment. It is also linked to feeling a lack of control or being time pressured. In many cases the stress is made worse by how we interpret situations or how we perceive things or imagine them to be in the future.

2. Physical Stress: Our physiology comes under stress when we consume foods or drink which cannot be easily metabolised. These include alcohol and smoking or foods for which we have allergies.

This category also includes hunger and having insufficient or poor-quality sleep. Surprisingly for many people, physical stress can also be associated with intensive exercising. When people do not recover sufficiently from intense activity, the body often responds with an injury, which can further add to the physical stress of the body.

3. Psychosocial Stress: When we undergo changes in our relationships, we often feel less secure and this is experienced as stress. For example, if we are experiencing a separation or divorce or if we have had a bereavement.

Likewise, if we have a change in our social status, this is also stressful. For example, losing our job, having our home repossessed or being convicted of a crime. These are all relational or psychosocial forms of stress which frequently go undiagnosed.

4. Psycho-spiritual stress: This type of stress is experienced when we go through periods of questioning regarding the meaning of our lives or work. It can be felt as a type of joyless striving and is accompanied by a sense of lacking something important.

An important part of our resilience & stress management courses is to help clients to do an inventory check of their lives to assess whether they may be experiencing any of the four stress types.

When they can identify the issues, they are much more empowered to take action to mitigate the stress, where possible. Even if they cannot fully control all of the events in their lives (e.g. job loss or bereavement) they can work on accepting the changes. This will free up their energy for things that bring them comfort or nurture.

Wiser Working supports leaders and teams to reduce stress at work and to build resilience. This helps them to perform better under pressure. If this is something you require support with, please contact us at :


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