Stress can be positive!

Welcome to another Wednesday Wisdom!  This week, we’ll be exploring differing types of stress and how they affect us during our day to day lives.  To start, most people recognize stress as something that is negative, or inhibitive.   This isn’t incorrect.  There are times in our lives that we will feel this way, and that’s normal.  This type of stress is more accurately described as “distress”, and is accompanied by demotivation and anxiety.  It can even manifest itself as a decrease in day-to-day performance, or as a general feeling of unpleasantness.  However, there is a different form of stress that can affect us, in a more positive manner.  It’s called “Eustress”, and it is generally linked to feelings of empowerment, motivation, and focus.    You’ve probably noticed it when you get a new job/promotion at work, or when you make a large purchase, like a new home.  It’s that invigorating feeling that lifts you out of your seat and propels you on a path to success.

We need to recognize the relationship between our bodies and both types of stress.  We all have different perceptions of stress, so this is inherently subjective.  But generally, the examples listed above represent a form of positive personal stress (eustress).  Coincidentally, eustress is what your body typically feels when you exercise/compete.  Testing ourselves mentally and physically can evoke a physiological response that pushes us to lift more, perform more repetitions, or compete harder.  This stress response is one of the most important physiological aspects that affects our ability to perform.  So, in saying that, we need to know how to differentiate between this “good” and “bad” stress, and utilize the “good” to the best of our abilities.

It’s also important to look at the length of the stress response in order to understand if it can be perceived as eustress, or distress.  Eustress is almost always a short-term response.  For example, if we are looking at exercise as the stressor, the stress response continues for the length of the activity, but dissipates quickly afterwards.  Distress, however, can be both short term and long term.  It can present itself as a temporary bout of anxiousness, or a lingering feeling of hopelessness that persists in our lives.

Ultimately, we need some form of stress in our lives, as it is a very effective motivator for us in a variety of different scenarios.  However, it should be eustress, as opposed to distress, and there are many different signals that helps us differentiate which we are feeling.  Find what motivates you, and let it push you to where you need to be!