Good Stress vs. Bad Stress

We all have probably experienced a stressful time in our lives or feel stress from everyday responsibilities. We can experience stress from a paper due for school, a work deadline, money, losing a job, or taking care of a loved one. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to our life experiences. The symptoms of stress can impact our thoughts, feelings, and our behavior.

Most people think of stress as a negative thing, but stress can be positive and good for you! Good stress is called eustress. This type of stress can be beneficial in small doses. It can help you meet daily challenges, motivate you, as well as boost memory. Good stress comes down to our attitude, control, rewards, and time. When we feel in control it makes our stress more manageable, so it is important to find ways to feel in control and calm when a stressful situation occurs.

We are wired as humans to have a fight or flight response whenever we experience a stressful circumstance. This response helps us to deal with stress and danger in our environment. Psychologists describe bad stress as “distress”. This form of stress can make you feel overwhelmed physically, mentally, and emotionally which can make it difficult to deal with a situation. This could in turn weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and even heart disease.

Some people experience stress for weeks or months. If you are experiencing too much stress you may experience the following symptoms:

-Body aches

-Headaches

-Irritability

-Changes in appetite

-Trouble falling asleep or staying away

-Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks

Depending on the situation it is possible to turn bad stress into good stress by changing your perception of some of the stressors in your life. For instance, if you perceive something as a threat our bodies will generally have a threat-based stress response. If we perceive it as a challenge, the fear we normally experience may turn into excitement or anticipation. Try practicing shifting your perception on certain situations.

Overall, stress is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over our life. Acknowledging stressful times and situations as well as finding ways to help you manage and cope with stress can be very helpful. If the stress you are experiencing is out of your control finding ways to adapt to stress can be beneficial for you. Please know seeking help of a professional may be necessary if you are having a hard time managing life stressors.

Other Sources:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
http://www.ulifeline.org/articles/450-good-stress-bad-stress
https://www.verywellmind.com/what-kind-of-stress-is-good-for-you-3145055

Jill Haupts, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation

Jill Haupts is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services from Iowa State University in 2016. Jill joined the Kim Foundation in January coming from Des Moines, Iowa. Her previous experience includes volunteer recruitment and fundraising, as well as experience coordinating services and providing resources to adults who have a mental health diagnosis. Jill’s role in the foundation is coordinating event logistics, presenting and attending community fairs, as well as volunteer coordination and recruitment. She enjoys working in the nonprofit field and has a passion for advocacy and helping others.

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