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Stress Languages: Knowing these 4 responses will help you understand yourself and others

We’re familiar with love languages. Now it’s time to learn about stress languages.

There’s a good chance you know your love language (words of affirmation, physical touch, etc.), but have you ever considered your stress language? Just as we have unique ways of expressing and receiving love, we also have distinct ways of experiencing and responding to stress.

According to licensed therapist Nichole Conrad, understanding your stress language can significantly improve your response in moments of conflict or high anxiety. Not only that, but knowing your partner’s stress language can also help you better meet their needs.


“Just like the love languages, which is meant to give context to how we experience, give, and receive love, our stress languages are meant to do the same,” said Nichole. They provide a framework for understanding and articulating our experiences, helping us and others make sense of what we’re going through.

The Power of Understanding

“We love having nice ways to define our experience to package up how we feel. We’re hungry for it,” Nichole explained. The concept of stress languages offers a new lens through which to view our emotional experiences. It’s been almost 20 years since the love language concept took off, and it’s now a natural part of how we talk about relationships and relational connections.

“I think we’re getting better about having conversations around emotional health and mental health. I think this will help with that process of giving us language to explain our experience,” Nichole believes. There’s a lot of power in knowledge, and it feels good to understand what we’re going through and be able to explain that clearly to other people.

The Four Stress Languages

There are four primary stress languages: fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. Each of these responses is triggered when we experience stress, usually due to a perceived lack of control or safety.


“For a person that has more of a fight response, they want to feel in control. They want quick solutions. They might be quick to anger. They might be feeling more agitated. They’re responsive,” Nichole explained.


“Flight is more of a withdraw approach. This looks like stonewalling, shutting down, withdrawing, and becoming quiet,” Nichole said. Those with a flight stress response tend to withdraw from stressful situations, seeking safety in solitude.


“I like to call it analysis paralysis. You’re feeling so overwhelmed by your stress and anxiety. It’s paralyzing,” Nichole emphasized. The freeze response is characterized by feeling overwhelmed to the point of inaction or indecision.


“Fawn is typically responded with individuals who’ve had more extensive trauma. It’s actually a bit of a dissociation from self,” Nichole explained. They may go along with things to avoid conflict or stress.

Nichole pointed out that just as we may identify with more than one love language, we may also find that our stress response is a blend of the four stress languages. The goal is not to box ourselves into a single category but to gain a deeper understanding of our experiences and responses.

Understanding our stress language can empower us to navigate stressful situations more effectively and communicate our needs more clearly. As we continue to have conversations around emotional health and mental health, tools like stress languages will play a crucial role in promoting understanding and empathy.

To learn more about stress languages and other aspects of emotional health, you can visit Nicole at Resilient Life Counseling in Farmington, or check out their website at

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