Now that we have established a definition for stress and learned how to recognize it let’s look at the duality of stress.
As we’ve already established, stress can be negative or positive caused by negative or positive factors. A person’s views on stress are completely subjective. What may be considered a positive to one person may not be so for another. What really determines how you respond to stress (mentally-emotionally, physically, physiologically) is your mindset.
Most of us are familiar with the negative side of stress. We have been told how bad stress is for us and how much it can deplete our health. We have felt its effects, even to the point of getting “stressed out” (another term for burnout). However, many of us have not been made aware of the positive side of stress, or we were not aware that stress could be positive.
Eustress and Distress are essentially two sides of the same coin. Both can ignite the stress response system in the body, and both fall in line with the definition of stress that we spoke about at the beginning of the month. So what makes them different? Eustress is considered the “happy” or motivational stress. This type of stress is usually short-term, and it enlivens you, excites you, and gives you forward momentum. Eustress is beneficial to your health, emotional well-being, and performance in various aspects of life. It is the kind of stress that you enjoy, look forward to, and feel manageable.
Examples of this include: buying a new home, learning something new, going on a vacation, winning an award, etc.
Distress is considered the “negative” or depleting stress. It is important to note that the term distress also describes the state that occurs when stress is overwhelming or has gone unchecked for extended periods of time (chronic stress). However, here we are speaking of the short-term, moderate, or “normal” intensity version. Distress drains you, decreases performance, and, if allowed to reach the point of chronicity, will cause negative impacts on your health and emotional well-being. Examples of this include unemployment, financial troubles, illness, etc.
As stated before, the difference between you experiencing eustress and distress is mainly in how your mindset. You may take distresses and see the positive in it or shift your outlook to believe that even if it is negative, it will not negatively impact you or have long-term adverse effects.
Stress is inevitable, but your approach to stress is what makes the most significant impact on your health, wellness, and overall wholeness. Over the next few weeks, we will look at some mistakes people make related to stress.