While understanding where stress comes from will not of itself lead to recovery it will help place you on that path. I want to begin by looking at the types of stress as falling into four broad categories.

1) PHYSICAL STRESS- Physical stress results of course from physical factors affecting your body. Extreme heat, dehydration, having to run or climb are common examples. Also included would be any injuries or illnesses you might be recovering from. Obviously you likely will experience more than one of these factors at a time.

2) EMOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS- This “flavor” of stress can be harder to spot.This kind of stress results from factors internal to you. Such factors can include deadlines at work, a fight with your spouse or caring for a relative who is sick or injured.

3) ACUTE OR TRAUMATIC STRESS-This sort of stress is usually connected with a specific, significant short term event. Losing a job, a short term illness, being caught in a disaster are good examples.

4) CHRONIC STRESS-Chronic stress results from long term factors. The stressors underlying chronic stress can last for years, so therefore chronic stress can be a part of your life for years. For this reason if chronic stress is a part of your life, it can make more usual day to day stressors hard to deal with. Examples include life long illnesses like diabetes, prolonged financial troubles etc.


1) These “flavors” of stress are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to have chronic physical stress or acute emotional stress or vice versa.

2) Not all stress results from bad things. The incredibly good things in life like the birth of a child, or a promotion at work, or a vacation can be very stressful too.

3) Stress is cumulative ! The more types of stress that you are dealing with, the harder each one of them become to cope with.

Think of stress as a bowl of soup. Just as soup can have many different ingredients, stress can come from many different factors. Just as you can add a factor (heat) to a full bowl of soup and make it boil over, adding another stressor to your full “stress bowl” can lead to you becoming overwhelmed.


Being over stressed does not in any way mean that you are “going crazy” or “falling apart” It just means that you are having a normal reaction to having a lot on your plate. You may in fact need help to diffuse things a bit. This help could range from a support group to a spouse’s shoulder to lean on, or in some cases the assistance of an unbiased caring professional. There is no shame in seeking help of any kind ! It is a normal part of the healing process. Learn where stress comes from, practice knowing when it is building up on you. Understanding what is going on is a key strategy in combating the different types, layers and amounts of stress we all face.

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