Most of us think of stress or the activities and tasks in life that cause stress as bad or negative experiences that have a mental and physical impact on the mind and body. This type of negative stress is referred to as “distress”, which is more commonly talked about on a daily basis. However, stress can be positive, meaningful, and help contribute to achievements in life overall. This particular type of stress is known as positive stress, good stress, or more formally “eustress”. Eustress can boost personal motivation and performance or the health and wellbeing of a person. Examples of good stress include events such as planning a wedding or an upcoming vacation, having a new baby, managing usual job stress and deadlines, or holiday seasons. All of these situations have elements of excitement and are manageable with effective coping strategies and techniques. The stressful situations mentioned above do not typically cause concern, increased anxiety, or feel overly unpleasant. With that said, it is important to keep in mind that everyone experiences life differently and will react in a variety of ways. This makes it somewhat difficult to separate out activities that would typically cause eustress or distress.
As we move into the New Year, it is important to consider the constructive impact that stress can have in life. Changing our responses to stressful situations can shift the way we view stress into an experience that is more satisfying and enjoyable. This is accomplished when a stressor is not perceived as threatening or having the potential to result in an all around bad outcome. A few ways to manage stress and make it beneficial include reacting to stress in a healthy way and recognizing stress for what it is, reframing the stressful situation, focusing on the elements one can control, creating or maintaining a support network of understanding people, and researching stress reducing techniques.
It is important to reach out for professional help when everyday stress begins to lead to chronic stress, symptoms of depression or anxiety, or manifest as physical illness. For more information on the mental health services provided by the Hope and Healing Center & Institute please call (713) 871-1004 or visit http://hopeandhealingcenter.org/.
Mental Health Intern
Hope and Healing Center & Institute
Harvard Business Review. (2011). Turning Stress into an Asset. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2011/06/turning-stress-into-an-asset.