If the concept of positive stress is unfamiliar to you, you are not alone. Most of us associate all stress with negative events.
According to Dr. Michael Genovese, a clinical psychiatrist, we rarely think of stress as a positive thing, yet eustress is just that – happy stress. “Exciting or stressful events cause a chemical response in the body,” he explained.
Causes of Eustress
Eustress is typically caused by nerves, which might be triggered by a fun challenge. According to Genovese, this is significant since our well-being can decline without eustress. “Eustress helps us stay motivated, work toward goals, and feel good about life,” he added.
What is Distress
Distress and eustress are opposites on either extreme of the continuum. Distress, as opposed to eustress, might make you feel overwhelmed since your resources (physically, cognitively, and emotionally) are insufficient to fulfill the demands you’re confronting.
According to Casey Lee, MA, a licensed professional counselor, this type of negative stress can cause anxiety, despair, and a decline in performance.
What Distinguishes Eustress as ‘good stress’
Working and living outside our comfort zones is beneficial. Stress can become negative when we are overloaded. That is why eustress is such a vital component of our total health.
“Eustress produces positive feelings of excitement, fulfillment, meaning, satisfaction, and well-being,” Lee said. He explains that eustress is beneficial since it makes you feel confident, adequate, and energized because of the stressor’s challenge.
According to psychologist Dr. Kara Fasone, eustress is about appropriately challenging oneself without exhausting all of your energies. This form of stress allows you to develop in three ways:
, eustress can provide pleasant emotions such as contentment, inspiration, motivation, and flow
, eustress aids in the development of self-efficacy, autonomy, and resilience
, eustress aids in the development of our bodies (e.g., through completing a challenging workout)
Some Examples of Eustress
Eustress can be found in all aspects of your life. Possibilities for constructive stress abound, from professional and interpersonal relationships to home and family relationships.
Fasone explains how eustress may manifest in your life:
Eustress at Workplace
Taking on a new project that pushes you to harness current talents (which may be quite stimulating) and forces you to develop existing skills or learn new ones is an example of eustress at work.
Work-related undertakings will only stimulate eustress if they are both difficult and practical. If you are juggling multiple tasks (an unsustainable workload) or working with a toxic team culture, you’re more likely to suffer anxiety and the unpleasant effects that come with it.
Pursuing Personal Interests Can Lead to Eustress
Another example of eustress is setting challenging goals based on your interests or passions. We have a natural propensity to learn as humans. Learning new things might be difficult. And gaining knowledge in a field does not occur in a straight line.
There is always a learning stage where you are completely inept. However, you are learning from your mistakes. You are inspired to keep learning and developing as you start to recognize tiny victories and build self-efficacy.
Eustress and Travel
Traveling is inherently stressful, especially when visiting a foreign country with a different language and culture.
At the same time, you are immersing yourself in a new and exciting environment, with new foods to try, new locations to visit, and an entire culture to discover.
Traveling, while difficult, is a good eye-opening experience for many people.
Eustress and physical conditioning
Physically, eustress is demonstrated by physically taxing your body (e.g., lifting weights) to promote growth (in this case, strength, stamina, and muscle growth).
You could be grooving out to your tunes and fully zoned out in the gym or on a jogging trail. Because you are caught up in the moment, you may not even notice how demanding the work has become.
How can you Incorporate More Positive Stress into Your Life
You probably already incorporate positive stress into your life. But, if you are seeking methods to incorporate eustress into your daily routine, Fasone has a few suggestions:
Productive Positive Stress
Positive or negative stress is a common aspect of life. We may not be able to manage some of the negative stress we face, but we may look for methods to incorporate more eustress into our lives.
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