How to Tell the Difference — Talkspace

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Good Stress vs. Bad Stress

Your body can secrete hormones such as cortisol or adrenaline in response to both good and poor stress. These hormones may cause heart racing, fast breathing, sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach.
The two stress types are often referred to by mental health professionals, eustress or distress. These can have different impacts on your body. 
Good stress is also known as Eustress. It can have a positive impact on your mood and give you a more optimistic outlook. It can even inspire you to be motivated and excited about changing your life. You can feel energized, able to conquer any adversity or illness that may come your way, and even be able, in some cases, to laugh at yourself.  
Stress, however, can lead to distress. It’s that overwhelming, anxiety-inducing, nerve-wracking form of stress that can leave you feeling debilitated and unable to focus, complete tasks, or face challenges. 
“The common misconception is that all stress is bad stress. This isn’t always the case, and it’s important to recognize that stress can mean different things in certain situations. Understanding the differences between good (eustress) and bad (distress) will help in managing these stressors in different ways.” Talkspace therapist Minkyung Chung, MS, LMHC

How do you define good stress?

Good stress typically doesn’t last long. It’s a short-term, fight-or-flight phenomenon that drives you to accomplish greater goals. During times when you’re under good stress, you’ll feel as if you have a lot of control over the outcome of tasks you take on. You can perform better when you are under good stress.
Eustress occurs when you feel excited, like when you’re watching a thriller or on a fast roller coaster. This can cause feelings of excitement and invigoration. Eustress is best demonstrated by a first date. 
When you’re in a period of eustress, your heart rate quickens, your breathing thins out, and your hormones kick into high gear, even though there’s no real, dangerous threat present. Positive stress can improve your ability to concentrate your efforts and help you achieve greater success in life.
Good stress examples include:

  • Go on your first date
  • A deadline is approaching
  • Finding a job is a great way to start a career.
  • Prepare for an exam or test coming up
  • The marriage 
  • Prepare for an important speech
  • The birth of your child
  • Buy a house new
  • These types of positive stress, along with other forms of it, offer brief bouts of motivation that can help you reach your goals and conquer any obstacles. Even though stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline still flood into the body, the effects aren’t long-lasting enough to cause any actual harm.

    Is there bad stress?

    Negative stress generally is not temporary. More often than not, it’s chronic and draining. It can make you feel tired and depressed. You may not be able achieve your goals if you are in distress. Ultimately, it’s very damaging because it never gives you a chance to recuperate from the fight-or-flight effects your body’s undergoing. It is a state that you live in.
    Untreated, distress can make your brain and body suffer. The fight-or flight response, which may give you an initial advantage, can become detrimental.
    Focusing on a deadline, for example, can be good stress, which can increase performance. However, feeling stressed about the interminable deadlines may lead to poor performance.
    The good kind of stress gives you time to relax and recuperate between stress episodes. Bad stress doesn’t, and it can leave you feeling exhausted to the point where you feel like giving up.
    Bad stress can be exemplified by:

  • Feeling stressed in your relationship? 
  • It is possible to end a romantic or platonic relationship.
  • The death of a spouse, friend or loved one
  • Neglect or abuse
  • High-pressure jobs that are in high demand and have never ending demands is a great job.
  • Untreated mental or physical ailments
  • Divorce
  • Financial difficulty 
  • Hospitalization or illness
  • A naive pursuit of money
  • When you’re stuck in a state of bad stress, your endocrine, digestive, excretory, immune, circulatory, and reproductive systems cannot perform their normal activities. Your entire system of physiological, psychological and physical functioning will be affected by chronic stress.
    If you don’t resolve your stress issues quickly, it is possible to develop many health problems, such as:

  • Memory Loss
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent irritability
  • Concentrating is difficult
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure 
  • That’s why it’s so important to learn how toYou can recognize and manage stressors in your daily life by anticipating them. 

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