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Types of stress

Feeling stressed? Understanding why you feel the way you do — and what to do about it — is important. This page explores what stress is and three common types of stress. Read on to learn what goes on in your body when you feel stressed and how to recognise each stress type.

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What is stress?

Stress is the body’s physical response to a real or perceived threat, demand, or danger.

When you feel threatened, your body releases stress hormones which prepare the body to respond. This is called the “fight or flight” response.

Stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, make your:

  • heart beat faster
  • muscles tighter
  • breathing faster
  • blood pressure higher
  • senses sharper

Sometimes a pressurised situation triggers a stress response. The situation may not actually put you in danger. But your body may react as if it does.

A stress response can be helpful in some situations. It can increase your performance. But sometimes it can be detrimental to your mental health.

Recognising the different types of stress — and how your body responds to them — can help you get help with stress when you need it.

Common types of stress 

There are three main types of stress. These are acute, episodic acute, and chronic stress. We explore each type of stress below:

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