Stress isn’t all bad. Usually when we use the word ‘stress’, what we really mean is so-called ‘bad’ stress or distress. But did you know that good stress also has a name? Eustress, pronounced YOU-stress, is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye who studied the impact of stress on the mind and body. Eu comes from the Greek meaning well or good and suggests a positive cognitive response to healthy stress.
So, What Is Eustress?
Well, eustress is the fuel for our successes and achievements. You may be experiencing eustress if you feel eager, excited, thrilled, proud, resilient, determined, fulfilled or in a state of flow. Distressing circumstances can also lead us to experience healthy eustress as we learn to cope and develop greater strength, determination and courage.
Without eustress we would not be equipped to deal with excitement and/or challenge in our lives. In the short term eustress provides us with an energy boost to perform challenging activities – especially where we need to focus and put in that extra effort eg. playing competitive sport. In the longer term, eustress helps us keep working at things when the going gets tough. It helps us achieve things of meaning and value to us, leading us to feel better about ourselves – and grow in confidence and stature.
Studies have also shown that eustress and distress have different effects on our bodies.
So, Here Are 7 Types of GOOD or Eustress That You May Want More of:
- Meeting and getting to know someone we really like – whether it’s a new friend, colleague or romantic interest.
- Studying over a period of time – where we are working towards something bigger that will move us forwards in life – like a new qualification.
- Travelling. When we travel, we must get out of our routines and comfort zones – and adapt. This is especially true when we travel to a foreign country and experience different foods, customs, language/s, scenery and more.
- Networking. Meeting lots of new people at once and showing ourselves and what we do to a larger world.
- Playing competitive sports – to perform at our best or doing a sporting activity to improve ourselves like jogging and staying committed even when we may not feel like it.
- Preparing for and working towards big goals or events like getting married, having a baby, getting a new job or promotion.
- Developing new skills especially where we have to practice to improve and work through the awkward beginner’s stage eg. learning a new hobby, language or sport.
So, any time we are out of our comfort zones, but working towards something bigger or feel excited or challenged in a good way, eustress is at work. Without eustress our lives would be pretty dull – and hard-going!
Final thought: It may all be in the mind. Whether something is considered eustress or distress depends on our reaction to the stimulus – and how in control of a situation we feel. For example networking is fun for some people and for others it is distressing. We may feel eustress if we asked for a promotion and start a new, more challenging role. But we may feel distress if we are told we MUST perform a role which we don’t feel equipped to do well.
I’m curious, where is eustress playing a role in your life right now?
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