person stressed out

Effectively Discerning Bad Stress from Good Stress

For much of our adult lives, we have to work eight hours a day, five days a week, 12 months in a year. If it weren’t for a group of industrial workers who wanted reforms in their workplace, we would be working without any weekends and “stressed out.” But what you might think as stressful is subjective, and there’s more to stress than what meets the eye.

Is Stress Entirely bad?

The first thing that most people think about when they hear the word “stress” is that it’s terrible. In reality, we get stressed on almost anything in our lives and not entirely wrong. Most medical practitioners would define stress as physical and mental tension.

Contrary to what most people think, stress is paramount in bringing about growth and change to an individual. Without stress, we would be contented in doing the same thing. In short bursts and sessions, stress can positively impact, such as being productive or meeting a deadline that you need to follow up on. But when we are working 8 hours a day, a physical and mental strain can stress our bodies.

Naturally, stress is usually a byproduct of external stimuli, and there are several contributing factors to it.

What’s the Difference?

Two types of stressors will affect the body’s fight-or-flight response process. Most of these stressors don’t necessarily need to be from adverse effects.

The first type of stressor that has positive effects on both mental and physical health is eustress. That has the following effects on the body:

  • It comes in the form of rewards and can be innervating. It will often be a source of motivation.
  • It will usually happen in short bursts of pleasure. It is often in the form of thrill and excitement.
  • It is another source of discomfort but can still be manageable.

Inversely, distress is the anti-thesis of eustress and will have the opposite effects, such as:

  • It causes negative mental states like anxiety and depression.
  • At specific points, distress can also cause physiological complications such as heart palpitations.
  • If a person cannot cope with the stress, this can lead to discomfort.

Good Stress

First, let’s look at the benefits and activities that are associated with good stress.

Most of the time, eustress is intertwined with the reward system and useful for various situations. That is what motivates people to study and even work harder.

Some activities that can promote eustress include:

  • Training with your dog can help improve your mood while building a good relationship with them.
  • Jogging early in the morning or any form of vigorous physical activity
  • Sexual release
  • Receiving good news, such as getting a promotion, being accepted for work, or winning a contest
  • Buying gadgets and items that you love
  • Going to a concert

Most of the time, people will try to exploit their eustress through a variety of rituals or taking in chemicals. For instance, stimulants such as caffeine will block chemicals that will promote drowsiness. When the body detects an increased brain activity, the adrenal gland will then release hormones that will trigger eustress. There is a multitude of different chemicals and stimulants that will have the same effect on the body.

Bad Stress

Stressed businesswoman

Next, distress can also come in the form of several events that will happen in a person’s life. Unlike eustress, past traumatic experiences will usually influence a person’s reaction to stress.

Some activities that might cause distress are:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Financial issues which include accumulated dept or business bankruptcy
  • Getting into a fight
  • Behavioral issues, bullying, and a history of abuse
  • A toxic working environment

It’s also important to note that most of these conditions will affect the coping mechanisms. Each person will have different psychology and biology so that coping mechanisms will be different for each individual.

How a person will perceive a particular event is subjective. For instance, an individual who was able to save for their retirement will see retiring as eustress, while someone who has not saved for their retirement will see it as distress.

In the same vein, some individuals find eustress in stressful situations, such as horror movies, while others see it as a stressful experience.

Overall, we have to accept the fact that stress will always be part of our lives. However, just because it’s a part of our lives does not mean that we have to experience it all the time.

If possible, take that vacation that you deserve, or spend time with your family or pets. You will need to relax and be content with what you have to perform well in your daily tasks.

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