What Are the Four Types of Stress and How Can You Gain Control Over Them?

By Krista


Last Updated: May 19, 2022

Like it or not, stress is something every one of us will encounter at some point in our lives. For some people, stress is just an annoying side-effect of a busy life. For others, however, stress is much more of a problem. 

To an extent, we can expect to encounter some feelings of stress in the workplace. With pressing deadlines, a chaotic working environment, and the struggle to maintain a work-life balance, it stands to reason that earning a living can be stressful. 

But what about when stress follows you home? Letting stress impact you mentally, spiritually, and emotionally can have a truly disastrous effect on your whole life. And yes, there is something that you can do about it. Identifying where your stress comes from and what is causing it is the first step to freeing yourself. 

In this article, we will dive into the types of stress and how you can gain control over them. Let’s take a look!



What Are the Four Stressors? 

When we’re feeling stressed, pressure can seem to come from every direction and every aspect of our life. In reality, though, stress usually comes in four different forms: time, situations, anticipation, and encounters

Let’s take a look at each of these types of stress in psychology and discuss how you can counteract each one. 


1. Time Stress

This stressor is exactly what it sounds like. Impending deadlines, a sense of time running out, and the nasty, cold feeling that you’ve forgotten something important all cause feelings of stress and panic. 

Maybe you’ve joked about how there are never enough hours in the day, but tasks and responsibilities keep on coming. For most adults, avoiding these tasks or dropping our responsibilities just isn’t an option, so what can you do when you’re stressed over not getting things done? 

Start by focusing on time management. Create to-do lists, prioritize, and maximize the time that you have. You may need to learn to start saying no to additional tasks or helping out!


2. Situational Stress

Nobody likes to feel out of control, and this is where situational stress comes in.

Situational stress involves feelings of panic, helplessness, and anxiety over something you can’t control. This type of stress can occur when you’re going through an emergency (yours or somebody else’s), conflict, getting laid off, or some other uncontrollable circumstance. 

Naturally, an emergency or losing your job would make you feel stressed. You can’t control your circumstances at that moment, but you can control your feelings of stress. 

The first step to managing situational stress is recognizing the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Managing anxiety symptoms can be different for everyone, but some techniques can go a long way when it comes to physically calming you down.

Deep breathing, deliberately relaxing tense muscles, mindfulness, and more can all help you to push away those choking feelings of stress and to think logically and calmly. 

Once you’ve handled the immediate panic that stress creates, you can focus on thinking rationally and dealing with your situation. 


3. Anticipatory Stress

Anticipatory stress can be one of the most harmful types of stress, as it focuses on the future - on something that hasn’t happened yet. Like other forms of stress, anticipatory stress goes hand-in-hand with anxiety disorders. 

We might get so caught up in imagining the absolute worst-case scenario that the stress and fear can become almost unbearable. How can you manage stress over something in the future? 

The first step is to remind yourself that what you’re imagining may never happen. Visualize the situation that’s making you anxious, and imagine it all going smoothly. Meditation, addressing fear of failure, and building confidence will all go a long way to reducing anticipatory stress.


4. Encounter Stress

Encounter stress comes from anxiety over interacting with people. This could come from interacting with people in general or from interacting with a specific person or group of people. Encounter stress and situational stress can go together, especially if you fear conflict. 

If you can, try brushing up on your people skills, and improve your confidence. This will increase your ability to handle contact with people and, in turn, will ease your stress. 

Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises can help to ease the immediate symptoms of stress and anxiety. Removing these physical symptoms will help you feel and act better. 

Related Article: 7 Easy Ways to Stop Anxiety & Chronic Stress From Ruining Your Life



What Are the Three Main Causes of Stress? 

Stress can seem to come from every corner of our lives, but in reality, stress can be narrowed down to three main areas of our lives: finances, work, and our personal life

Each cause of stress can present differently. For example, time stress can be found more often in work and finances, whereas situational stress might be seen more in our personal life. 

However, everyone is different, which means that your stress may present differently from that of a friend or work colleague. Luckily, as previously mentioned, it is within your control!


Learning to Manage Your Stress

There are many different ways to manage stress, and this can be different depending on your unique circumstances and personality. You can try managing different types of stress by using one, several, or all of these methods:

  • Focus on good time management 
  • Prioritize and organize (create to-do lists, decide what needs to be done first, etc.)
  • Learn to say “no” when necessary
  • Meditate and practice breathing exercises
  • Practice mindfulness 
  • Learn the difference between internal stressors (stress created by internal factors, ie. anxiety disorders) and external stressors (anxiety created by outside circumstances, such as work and family responsibilities) and deal with these two stressors differently
  • Boost your self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Improve your people skills and conflict management

This is by no means a complete list of how to manage stress and anxiety. It’s important to try out a few different methods to decide what works best for you.

Related Article: 3 Easy and Simple For Relieving Morning Anxiety and Stress



Control Your Stress—Don’t Let Your Stress Control You

Ideally, you would cut all sources of stress out of your life. Of course, we know that this usually isn’t possible. 

If you suspect that you could have an anxiety disorder or you aren’t managing your stress well, seek medical advice. Therapists and doctors can help you identify the causes of stress, the types of stress that you deal with the most, and help you to create an action plan to work through it. 

Don’t suffer in silence. And seek out solutions. Stress is something we all go through from time to time, and there are various ways to combat it.

Read Next: Mindful Living: 4 Helpful Ways to Calm Your Mind & Keep it From Racing

Photo by Inzmam Khan


One comment on “What Are the Four Types of Stress and How Can You Gain Control Over Them?”

  1. Thank you !

    Stress from your own mind, body ( worries, sickness ... )
    Stress from other living entities ( flies, neighbours, bosses ... )
    Stress from nature ( wind, earthquake, flood, ... )

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