Eustress; If the idea of positive stress is new to you, you’re not alone. Most of us equate all stress with negative experiences. Clinical Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Genovese says we rarely think of stress as a positive thing, but eustress is just that — positive stress. “Exciting or stressful events cause a chemical response in the body,” he explained.
Eustress is usually a product of nerves, which can be brought on when faced with a fun challenge. Genovese says this is important because, without eustress, our well-being can suffer.
“Eustress helps us stay motivated, work toward goals, and feel good about life,” he added.
What is Distress?
In terms of opposites, distress and eustress are on either end of the spectrum. Unlike eustress, distress can make you feel overwhelmed because your resources (physically, mentally, emotionally) are inadequate to meet the demands you’re facing.
Licensed professional counselor Casey Lee, MA, says this type of negative stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and a decrease in performance.
What makes eustress ‘good stress’?
Working and living outside of our comfort zone is a good thing. It’s when we feel overwhelmed that stress can turn negative. That’s what makes eustress such an important part of our overall health.
“Eustress produces positive feelings of excitement, fulfillment, meaning, satisfaction, and well-being,” Lee said. He explains that eustress is good because you feel confident, adequate, and stimulated by the challenge you experience from the stressor.
Psychologist Dr. Kara Fasone says eustress is all about sufficiently challenging yourself without expending all your resources. This type of stress empowers you to grow in three areas:
Emotionally, eustress can result in positive feelings of contentment, inspiration, motivation, and flow.
Psychologically, eustress helps us build our self-efficacy, autonomy, and resilience.
Physically, eustress helps us build our body (e.g., through completing a challenging workout).
What are some examples of eustress?
You can find eustress in all areas of your life. From work and interpersonal relationships to home and family relationships, opportunities to experience positive stress are abundant.
Here are some ways you may see eustress show up in your life:
1) Eustress at work
An example of eustress at work is taking on a new project that encourages you to leverage existing strengths (which can be incredibly energizing) and requires you to hone existing skills or learn new ones.
Work-related projects will only drive eustress if they’re challenging but realistic. If deadlines are unrealistically tight, you’re juggling numerous projects (an unrealistic workload) or working with toxic team culture, you’re more likely to experience distress and the negative consequences that come with it.
2)Eustress in personal interests
Setting challenging goals around your interests or passions is another example of eustress. As humans, we have an innate ability to learn. Learning new things can be challenging. And growing expertise in an area doesn’t happen in a straight line.
There’s typically that learning stage where you may be absolutely terrible. But you’re learning from those mistakes. As you start seeing small wins and continue to build self-efficacy, you’re motivated to continue learning and improving.
3)Eustress and travel
Traveling is inherently stressful, especially when you’re exploring a faraway place with a different language and customs.
At the same time, you’re immersing yourself in a new and interesting place, with various foods to enjoy, new places to see, and a whole culture to experience.
Although stressful, traveling is an eye-opening experience for many people that are viewed positively.
Eustress and physical conditioning
Physically, eustress is exemplified by challenging your body (e.g., lifting weights) to encourage growth (in this case, strength, stamina, and muscle growth).
In the gym or out on a walking path, you might be jamming out to your tunes and totally zoned into your workout. You may not even realize how exhausting the work has become because you’re caught up in the moment.
Helpful Stress Management Products:
In case you still need further help to get over stress effects. I recommend you check out some of these helpful products and courses below (I may earn as an affiliate from your purchase):
1) Panic Away – End Anxiety & Panic Attacks. Well-being And Self Help: This is a platform that will give you followup to help identify the causes of your stress and solutions.
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