Dr. Karl Albrecht, a stress-reduction specialist, described in his 1979 book, ‘Stress and the Manager’, four separate types of stress: time stress, anticipatory stress, encounter stress and situational stress. While many people experience a degree of stress in their lives, Albrecht maintains that it is only once you understand these different types of stress and how to identify them that you can manage the stress more effectively. In turn, you will be able to regain control of a stressful life and build a healthier, more productive existence. This article will describe the four types of stress and discuss how they can be managed.
1. Time Stress
Time stress is experienced when a person worries about time or the lack of time in their life. Anxiety revolves around the number of tasks the person feels they need to do and the feature that they will fail to complete the important tasks due to a lack of time. One often feels trapped, unhappy and, in many cases, hopeless. Common examples of time stress include worrying about deadlines or rushing to avoid being late for a meeting.
It is potentially the most common stress experienced by people in society today. It is essential that one learn to manage time stress if they are going to work productively in busy companies. Management of this stress type is separated into two phases involving learning good time management. The first step is to identify time management skills and incorporate them into your daily routine. For example, one can use to do lists or action programmes when managing concurrent projects.
Next, one needs to devote the correct amount of time to the most significant priorities. Unfortunately, it is easy to become caught up in seemingly urgent tasks and ignore the more important ones. An important task is one that will assist in reaching goals and working on these tasks is a better use of a person’s time. If there is not enough time to complete all tasks, it is vital that one learn how to create more time in the day through effective time scheduling; for example, coming to work early or working late. This will help with efficiency and helps a person do more with the time available.
2. Anticipatory Stress
Anticipatory stress refers to that experienced when considering the future. This can be focused on a specific event, but it can also be vague or undefined expressing an overall dread about the future.
Due to anticipatory stress being future-based, it is recommended that one use positive visualization techniques as a means of managing the situation. For example, one could recognize the dreaded event and use positive visualization techniques to imagine the event being a success instead of a failure. Research has found that the human mind is not always able to differentiate on a basic neurological level between a visualized situation and one that has already occurred.
Further techniques to manage this type include meditation. This will help a person develop focus and concentrate on the present situation rather than the future. Meditation should be performed daily, even if it is only five minutes per day.
3. Encounter Stress
Encounter stress refers to that which is experienced when a person worries about interaction with a specific individual or group of people. This type typically occurs if the person’s role requires a great deal of personal interaction with the groups, especially if the group is in distress. For example, social workers and medical professionals present with high levels of encounter stress because of their interaction with people who are upset or do not feel well.
Encounter stress can also occur when experiencing “contact overload”. This is felt when a person feels exhausted by an overwhelming amount of interaction with people.
Due to the fact that encounter stress is focused on interaction with people, management can be obtained by improving one’s people skills. A good place to begin would be developing greater emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence focuses on the ability to recognize the other person’s emotions, wants and needs. This is an essential skill for interacting with people and building strong relationships.
It is also important to know when one is reaching the “interaction limit” for a day. All people present with different symptoms when encountering stress, but a common symptom is a psychological withdrawal from others. This withdrawal is followed by the person operating on “autopilot” becoming impersonal in their interactions. If one is able to identify the interaction limit, he or she will be able to identify when they need to take a break.
4. Situational Stress
Situational stress can be experienced when encountering a scary situation where a person loses control. The situations are typically ones that involve conflict or a loss of status in a group. For example, being fired from a job or making a mistake in a team environment can result in situational stress.
This type often appears suddenly in a situation that the person failed to anticipate. Stress management in these cases can be achieved by learning to be more self-aware and recognizing the “automatic” signals one sends when under pressure. For example, an automatic response to a meeting that has become a shouting match is to feel a surge of anxiety. The common feelings are for the person’s stomach to knot and withdrawal into themselves; therefore, if they are asked for their input they may have a difficult time knowing what to say.
As is mentioned above, conflict can be a source of situational stress. To manage conflict situations, it is important to learn conflict resolution skills. This will ensure one is prepared to handle the conflict when it appears and improve a resolution of individual issues.
Final Words On The Matter
Stress is a powerful emotion that can control a person’s life and make them feel anxious in different situations. By using the correct management techniques for each type, it is possible to gain control of the emotion and begin to maintain a healthy lifestyle.