The Four Levels of Stress: Which level are you in?

  • The four levels of stress differentiate the extent at which stressors cause an impact to an individual’s daily life. These levels present the extremes of a spectrum wherein stress is healthy to an individual at one end, and very harmful to an individual on the other end.

These are the four levels of stress:

Level 1 :

The first level is characterized by mild anxiety. Among the four levels of stress, it is the first level that is considered as “healthy stress”. On this level, a person is highly motivated and his energy

levels are sufficient to cope up with the stressor. It is also in this level that a person feels very productive. Examples of situations of the first level are times when manageable life changing events occur, like a job promotion or getting married.

Level 2 :

The second  level of stress is experienced by an individual when a stressor continues to make a considerable effect on an individual’s daily life. At this stage, the individual may already have some complaints of overloading and a feeling of overwhelm and distress.

Level 3 :

The third level is already characterized as chronic stress. If the stressor is still not addressed

during this level of stress, there would already be explicit negative manifestations of stress such

as feelings of irritability and even somatic manifestations such as tension-related headaches.

Level 4 :

At this stage, the individual chronically feels exhausted, both physically & emotionally. The individual may even feel a reduced sense of self-fulfillment. Some serious somatic manifestations without supporting medical diagnosis may also be experienced. This final level among the four levels of stress requires consideration of anti-stress remediations.

  • There are factors that can determine which among the four levels of stress a person might go through.
  • First, the characteristics of the stressor may contribute to the level of stress an individual might be experiencing. Some stressors are acute stressors which can place an individual on the lower levels. Examples of acute stressors are daily life hassles like traffic jam, arguing with an officemate or preparing for an important exam. However, some stressors are chronic, and can bring the individual on the higher levels of the four levels of stress. Among the major chronic stressors are: unsatisfactory marriage, very demanding job or financial difficulties.
  • The controllability of an event also influences our levels of stress. A stressor that is more controllable like dealing with a stubborn colleague brings a person to lower levels of stress. However, major uncontrollable events like having cancer or death of a loved one can really cause the individual to experience the higher levels of stress.
  • These four levels of stress are identified to help one determine if stress has already reached a level dangerous to one’s physical and mental health. It is advised that a person should watch out for signs that one is already on the higher levels of stress. It may be a loved one or it may be you. Once determined, one must seek help regarding coping mechanisms to avoid self-injurious behavior like suicide or major psychosomatic illnesses.
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