Part 02:  Albrecht’s Four Types of Stress

Dr. Karl Albrecht's Four Types of Stress

Dr. Karl Albrecht outlined in his 1979 book, Stress and the Manager, the most common causes of stress and anxiety.  He determined that we experience these responses due to time constraints, anticipation, personal situations, and through encounters with others.

Time – This type of stress is frequently attributed to feeling rushed to accomplish certain tasks, such as errands, meeting deadlines for projects and assignments, and arriving to an event before it starts.  Though it might make us feel hectic in the moment to be rushing around, the stress of getting something done by the deadline, can actually reinforce our commitment to it and ensure it is actually accomplished.

Establishing a deadline and intentionally introducing that stress, can be very helpful in keeping us on track and maintaining our focus.  Without that stress, things may never be accomplished, particularly for procrastinators.

Anticipation – This type of stress should really be called anxiety, as it focuses on a response to future events and situations, those that have not yet occurred or are not yet being experienced.  Some common examples may include upcoming:

  • Speeches / presentations / interviews
  • Family gatherings / holidays / weddings
  • First day on the job or at school

These impending events can trigger our anxiety not because of the event itself, but of our fear of not knowing how the event will unfold.  For this reason, anticipatory responses such as these are self-induced or self-inflicted.  Our fear of things going wrong or being a bad experience sets us up for unnecessary negativity, fear, worry, and all the other symptoms of anxiety.

Individuals who are naturally pessimistic will find managing or overcoming this experience to be very difficult.  However, if we are able to shift our focus away from the what-ifs our minds conjure up, and instead focus on the things we can actually control, such as our attitude, behaviors, and choices, the anxiety about these types of events can subside to a more manageable level.

Situations – Though it is a very broad category, situational stress can be clearly defined as anything we are currently experiencing.  These categories would include life changes, physical illness or injuries, medication or substance use, and mental health conditions.  Some of the most common examples would include:

  • Marriage / divorce / pregnancy
  • Purchasing a new home / packing up or unpacking due to moving
  • Employed at a new job / recently assigned a new supervisor
  • Chronic or debilitating disease
  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Side-effects of prescription medication
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Illicit substance use
  • Anxiety disorders (yes, you can be stressed about your anxiety!)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Moderate to severe depression / Bipolar Disorder

Encounters – The fourth group includes experiences that those close to you are going through that are impacting you due to proximity.  There are a few categories that fall into this group, such as illness or injury of loved one, loss of a loved one, conflicts with those close to you such as family, friends, and coworkers.

Some specific examples of conditions and circumstances that can affect us due to proximity would include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes
  • Bereavement
  • Financial costs of funeral services
  • Disrupted emotional support network (friendships ending)
  • Animosity or isolation
  • Perpetually negative environment / attitudes

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