Types of Stress (& How to Spot Them at Work)

Types of Stress (& How to Spot Them at Work)

You’re halfway through another long workday. But you’ve still got some work to do before you can clock off for the night. A co-worker is talking to you. And you start to feel yourself getting tenser and tenser the more they distract you. You’re unable to make eye contact and feel yourself emotionally closing off to them. You don’t want to listen to them at all, you just want to finish and go home.

Instead of snapping at this person, take a break. Go for a walk outside, take a deep breath, and maybe have a glass of water. By the time you’re back to your desk, you’re in a better space. And maybe even enjoying the task at hand.

This is the kind of stress that many people will tend to write off. It is definitely possible to have a bad day or a bad mood. But by not dealing with these causes of stress we are only making things worse.

What we are trying to conveys is – One needs to acknowledge stress before it could be managed.

Thus the first step for managing stress at work is knowing more about the types of stress that burden you. Biggest challenge with stress is that rarely do individuals realise, that what they are facing is stress. It’s only when the effects of stress become apparent, it is acknowledged.

In this article, let us examine four main types of stress as categorised by psychologist Dr. Karl Albrecht.

The Four Most Common Stress Types

In his 1979 book “Stress and the Manager”, Dr. Karl Albrecht indicated that the most common types of stress in the workplace are:

  • Time stress
  • Anticipatory stress
  • Situational stress
  • Encounter stress

Let us look at them one by one & see how they can be dealt with. All within the context of your work environment.

Time stress

Do you find yourself wishing for an extra hour or two in the work day so that you can get through everything?

Or perhaps feel like that mountainous to-do list can’t seem to get cleared?

As the name suggests, you experience time stress when you’re worried about time.  Perhaps more commonly, the lack of time.

You’ll find that time stress is directly tied to worrying about deadlines . It can lead to feeling trapped, hopeless and put you under unreasonable amounts of pressure.

Some ways to help you navigate this kind of stress include:

Time management skills

We’re all looking to work smart, rather than working hard. Make sure you’re setting yourself realistic schedules. And doing the work to stick to them.

Prioritising tasks

Whether this involves priority matrices or simply organising by due dates. Working through your tasks in order of priority can alleviate stress. Accept in your mind that you can’t do everything immediately.

Knowing when and where it’s appropriate to say “no”

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Which means rather than taking on every new task that comes your way be comfortable in saying a polite ‘no’.

Anticipatory stress

Ever stayed awake the night before a presentation?  Fully knowing that it would be so much better if to got some rest. But at the same time knowing how elusive sleep is when you’re worried about what tomorrow brings.

Or, perhaps even worse, that feeling of casual dread that can dog you when you consider the future. Rather than being able to pin it to a moment or an event, it’s just a pervasive worry. That something might happen or go wrong.

Welcome to anticipatory stress.

This can come from lack of confidence, lack of control or uncertainty.

Use the power of the mind

Mind often cannot tell the difference between a situation you’ve repeatedly visualised as going well and an event which has already happened. That is what Psychology professor and neuroscientist, Ian H Robertson, has found out.

So trick your mind into thinking that you are already successful at whatever it is making you stressed out.

Situational stress

Situational stress is something which commonly feels like a loss of control. Sometimes this could have to do with an emergency situation. But it’s more likely to involve conflict or a perceived loss of status.

Find yourself panicking about what happens in case you make a mistake in front of your peers?  Then you’re looking directly at situational stress.

Plan for your fears

Confront the fear of failure by leaning into it. Consider the “what if” of failure, and make contingency plans for what happens if you DO fail. In this way, your mind will allow you to relax and stop panicking over the unknown.

Encounter stress

Encounter stress involves being challenged or stressed out around interactions with people.

This can work in a variety of ways. For example, if you work in a job that involves a large amount of human interaction, you can reach something known as “contact overload”. Here you feel overwhelmed or drained by having to deal with a lot of people.

To alleviate encounter stress, consider developing your people skills. Or may be look at how empathy in the workplace can help you improve. Emotional quotient plays a big part in helping you deal with this.