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New Psychological Research Identifies 5 Categories Of Stress Beliefs

Everyone has felt stress from time to time throughout their lives. Whether it’s pressure from work, relationships, or family, it all stems from different aspects of people’s lives. Each individual also feels and manages their stresses differently, therefore it had never been cataloged into specifics before. In a 2021 article from the Journal of Health Psychology, it attempts to describe the diverse ways people can think about and relate to stress. “The five themes identified by the researchers were cognition, emotion,  physical health, interpersonal relations, and behavior.” These themes are attempts that researchers have made throughout different studies in the hopes of understanding more about them. (1)

What is Stress?

“Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations — whether they’re real or perceived.” (3) It’s also true that stress may be perceived differently by each individual. What is stressful for one person, may not be for another depending on their stressors. “A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long period of time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively and recover from stressful events more quickly than others.” How each person defines their own stress is unique to each person. Thus far, there has not been a clear cut way to firmly identify stress due to its fluid nature. “The word stress — like success, failure, or happiness — means different things to different people and, except for a few specialized scientists, no one has really tried to define it although it has become part of our daily vocabulary,” say the researchers led by Christopher Kilby of Macquarie University in Australia.” Let’s take a closer look at 5 different stress beliefs the researchers have categorized. (1, 2)

The 5 Categories of Stress Beliefs

The Emotional element of stress belief is having an emotional response to a situation. Most people generally agree that their emotions greatly impact their stress levels. More often than not, it brings out a negative emotion such as anger, jealousy, or panic.

The Physical element of stress belief varies from person to person. “Some participants noted changes in appetite (increased and decreased), sleeping patterns (increased and decreased), increased heart rate, increased body temperature, feelings of exhaustion/adrenaline, stomach cramps, dry skin, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, and acne/warts.” (1)

The Cognitive stress belief is seen as an individual’s mind creating stress through their daily thoughts. Making up scenarios, questioning their actions, and so forth, leading them to feeling stressed. “A majority of the respondents interviewed (63%) reported that stress negatively impacts their ability to think clearly.” (1)

The Interpersonal element of stress belief affects the way you react to others around you when you are in the midst of experiencing stress. The outcome of this once again, varies for each individual. Some are affected positively and get stress relief from engaging with others, while some people’s stress levels elevate. 

The Behavioral element of stress belief is thought to be the outcome of undergoing stress. While some people work extra hard under pressure, others may have a breakdown. Your confidence in your abilities may shift causing your behavior to change as well. 

Stress Beliefs To Help The Future

By trying to categorize the different stress beliefs, it can help scientists and doctors gain more knowledge about this topic. With a better understanding of what stress means to people, they can hopefully come up with various solutions to help manage it better. This provides hope in helping those who have a difficult time managing their stress and anxieties. Finding out ways to either manage or treat the stress and anxieties in people’s lives will provide a healthy and more fulfilling life to millions of people around the world. 


  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/traversmark/2021/11/24/new-psychological-research-identifies-5-categories-of-stress-beliefs/?sh=5e0ab2e732e8
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress
  3. https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body

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