Types of Stress and Stress Relief Techniques For Each

Find Effective Stress Relievers For Different Types of Stress

If you're like many people, you may feel that certain stress relief techniques don’t work for you while others work quite well. There are reasons that the same stress relievers can work so differently for various people. Often the techniques that don’t seem to work for a particular person are ineffective for one of two reasons: either they are a poor match for the person’s personality, or for the situation. For example, breathing exercises can effectively relieve stress, but may not be a powerful enough technique to be the sole coping strategy for someone experiencing caregiver stress, chronic job stress, or anther type of chronically-occurring stress.

There are so many different ways to relieve stress that sometimes finding the right technique for your personality and situation may seem overwhelming, or at least like more work than you want to tackle when you're already feeling stressed. Finding stress relievers that work for you, however, can be well worth the effort in that the work you do to try different techniques that work for you can ultimately change your whole experience of stress.

Whether you have a few techniques that work for you and are just looking to add one or two, or need to overhaul your way of dealing with stress and create a whole new system, the following list can help. These stress relief techniques are grouped according to various categories you may be looking at when deciding how to best manage your stress. If you have any favorites that you don’t see mentioned here, use the link at the bottom to share your best stress relief strategies and how you use them. After reading this, you may still be unsure of how stressed you are. Our Stress Self-Test can help you figure out how stressed your lifestyle is making you. 

Acute Stress

Some forms of stress are mild, but they can add up to more stress.
Some forms of stress are mild, but they can add up to more stress. Stress management is important. Astronaut Images/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Acute stress is the type of stress that throws you off-balance momentarily. This is the type of stress that comes on quickly and often unexpectedly and doesn’t last too long, but requires a response and shakes you up a bit, like an argument with someone in your life, or an exam for which you don’t feel adequately prepared.  Your body's stress response is triggered with acute stress, but you can reverse it with quick relaxation techniques, and then go back to your day feeling less stressed again.   These stress relievers can help you to relax and more quickly recover from acute stress.

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Chronic Stress

Constant, daily stress is known as chronic stress, and can be more damaging than other forms of stress.
Constant, daily stress is known as chronic stress, and can be more damaging than other forms of stress. Jessica Peterson/Tetra Images/Getty Images

Chronic stress is the type of stress that tends to occur on a regular basis. This type of stress may leave you feeling drained, and can lead to burnout if it’s not effectively managed. This is because, when the stress response is chronically triggered and the body is not brought back to a relaxed state before the next wave of stress hits, the body can stay triggered indefinitely. This can lead to the host of health issues that are generally associated with stress, including cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, depression, and a host of other conditions. (Here is a list of stress-related health issues.) This is why it is important to effectively manage chronic stress. Managing this type of stress often requires a combination approach, with some short-term stress relievers (like those for acute stress), and some long-term stress relief habits that relieve overall stress. (Different emotion-focused coping techniques and solution-focused coping techniques are important as well.) The following long-term habits can help you to better manage general stress that you may feel from the chronic stressors in your life.

More: Quiz: Might Your Stress Levels Be Putting Your Health At Risk?

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Emotional Stress

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The pain of emotional stress can hit harder than some other types of stress. For example, the stress that comes from a conflicted relationship tends to bring a greater physical reaction and a stronger sense of distress than the stress that comes from being busy at work. Therefore, it is important to be able to manage emotional stress in effective ways. Strategies that help you to process, diffuse, and build resilience toward emotional stress can all work well, and different approaches can work in different situations. Here are some ways to manage emotional stress.

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Battling Burnout

Cultura RM/Jason Butcher/ Getty Images. Cultura RM/Jason Butcher/ Getty Images

Burnout is the result of the prolonged chronic stress of situations that leave people feeling a lack of control in their lives. Certain conditions of a job can create a greater risk of burnout, including not only a high level of demands, but also unclear expectations, lack of recognition for achievements, and a high level of risk of negative consequences when mistakes are made. (Does your job put you at risk for job burnout? Take the job burnout quiz to find out!) Once you reach a state of burnout, it is difficult to maintain motivation to work and accomplish what you need to accomplish, and you can feel chronically overwhelmed. In addition to the strategies that work well for chronic stress and emotional stress, the following strategies can help you to come back from a state of burnout—or prevent it entirely.

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