Stress and Eustress

Stress and Eustress

Did you know that there are actually good forms of stress? It may not feel like it when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, but it’s actually true. There’s a difference between stress and eustress, and it’s a very important difference to consider. Stress and eustress are two different ends of the spectrum.

Typically, when we’re talking about “stress,” what we really mean is distress – this is the bad sort of stress that can result in tension, anxiety, physical and mental problems, and more. However, scientifically speaking, the word stress is just a general term, and we can either mean by it distress – which is bad stress – or eustress – which is good stress.

There are lots of different forms of stress and eustress, but eustress is a good thing. Without this type of stress, our lives would be boring and mundane, and we might also have difficulty engaging in important tasks – such as meeting a deadline or writing an important paper for school and doing well at it. Here’s what you need to know about eustress, and how it can actually be helpful for you and your mental and physical well-being.

Stress and Eustress: The Differences

When you think of stress, what do you think of? If you know much about the scientific definition of stress, then you know it’s a response to physical, mental, or emotional threats – things that might actually harm us. This type of stress usually leads to a fight or flight response. A few thousand years ago, this might have been an appropriate response, seeing as how the stress causing factor might have been a threatening beast that you needed to get away from. Now, though, this response is very rarely – though sometimes – helpful. And in our lives, we encounter so many potentially threatening situations that stress builds up to unhealthy levels until we have a near-constant flood of stress hormones in our systems because of it.

Eustress, on the other hand, is a form of stress that we feel when meeting challenges. Think about how you feel when you’re getting ready to face an opponent in your favorite sport, when you’re writing a paper for a class you are really good at, or even when you’re talking about your far-off dreams and goals. In these situations, you often feel “pumped.” You feel a sense of energy and vitality that’s beyond how you normally function.

This is where stress and eustress play out in your life. Stress gives you a fight or flight response that can be unhealthy over time, but eustress just gives you a sense of energy that you need to meet a challenge, whether physical or mental. Without eustress, you would feel a lack of vitality, a flatness – even depression.

You’ve probably been through points in your life where you didn’t have any eustress. I certainly have. If you’ve ever been through a period when you’re doing the same things every day and never having to meet a particular goal or challenge, how does that make you feel? Probably blue and a little depressed, because it’s just so boring! This is because you’re lacking eustress-inducing situations in your life!

So, if you’re worried about stress and eustress, start worrying more about dealing with stress and less about eustress. Find things to challenge you that make you feel stress and eustress, and you’ll see the difference. Get rid of factors in your life that cause unnecessary stress, but add in things that cause you to feel eustress – whether that’s training to run a marathon, submitting an article to a local newspaper, or even riding a rollercoaster at your favorite theme park.