There Are 3 Different Stress Styles—Which One Are You?

stress styles cat

Like death and taxes, stress is one of those universal certainties. Everyone, at one time or another, has felt overwhelmed or in over their heads or burned out. In her book, The Stress Solution: A Revolutionary New Method for Emotional Resilience, health psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Laurel Mellin, PhD., shares her simple system of Emotional Brain Training (EBT), a scientific technique to re-wire the brain to de-stress and find joy in just minutes.

And frankly, it couldn’t have come at a better time. In the book, Mellin refers to an April 2020 study conducted by San Diego State University that showed that 70 percent of participants met the criteria for moderate-to-serious mental distress, compared with only 22 percent in 2018. “In June 2020,” Mellin adds, “happiness plummeted to an all-time low in the U.S. Among adults under 25, roughly 90 percent screened positive for moderate-to-severe depression, and 80 percent screened positive for moderate-to-severe anxiety.”

So where does Emotional Behavioral Training come in? Mellin says that EBT “is based on neuroplasticity. Each time you switch off stress, you change your wiring. Over time, your brain becomes wired for radical resilience, leaning into adversity and coming out the other side stronger, happier, and healthier.”

But before you can learn to lean into adversity in order to make you stress work for you, it’s important know your emotional stress style. Read on for how Mellin describes each of the three styles.

3 Styles of Emotional Stress

1. Unnecessary Low

“It’s easy to know if that’s your emotional stress style,” Mellin writes, “because it feels bad and, at the very least, the discomfort of those states can get your attention.” Folks who experience this type of emotional stress might deal with depression, anxiety, panic or shame.

2. Numbness

The second emotional stress style is to have no feelings. Mellin describes those in this category as being almost like a deer in the headlights. “Many people who have this style believe they have no stress,” she writes. “Perhaps they ease stress with eating, drinking, spending, working or other options, but overall, they have no feelings.”

3. False High

The last of the three emotional stress styles is the most challenging style, Mellin notes. Why? Because it feels so good. “We have the illusion that everything is fantastic, and only later when we awake from that state (often much later), do we realize we are hurting ourselves or others.”

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sarah stiefvater
Sarah Stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...
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