From never-ending to-do lists to balancing work, your social and family life, and personal responsibilities, it’s easy to become stressed and want to avoid those feelings because it can feel overwhelming and uncomfortable. However, stress, whether we like it or not, is a natural and expected part of daily life, and you may be surprised to learn that some stress is considered to be good. “Good stress,” also known as eustress, is a type of stress you might feel before completing a work assignment, attending a first date, or an excursion you’re excited about. When we experience good stress, our heart rate and breathing rate increase, and we feel a thrill of excitement. Good stress can be a short-term change in our bodies that allows us to feel energized and prepared, priming us to perform at our best. While good stress helps you to feel positive anticipation and elevates your well-being, bad stress can harm your health, but it’s important to have both.
Good stress, or eustress, is a type of stress we feel when we are excited. We feel this type of stress when we ride a roller coaster and compete for a promotion. There are many triggers for this good stress, and it keeps us feeling alive and excited about life. A certain level of stress helps keep your mind and body alert and responsive, which can motivate and help you perform your best. Stress can improve performance–at least up to a certain point. Once you pass that point, stress can take a toll on your ability to perform well.
Good Stress vs. Bad Stress:
Another type of stress is acute stress. Acute stress also triggers the body’s stress response, but the triggers don’t always feel good, which can be considered stress or bad stress. Acute stress in itself doesn’t take a heavy toll if we find ways to relax quickly. Once the stressor has been dealt with, we must return our body to homeostasis, or its pre-stress state, to be healthy and happy.
Chronic stress is considered to be another form of bad stress. This occurs when we repeatedly face stressors that take a heavy toll and feel inescapable and overwhelming. A stressful job and unhappy personal life can bring chronic stress, which is normally thought of as serious stress. Given that our bodies aren’t designed for chronic stress, we can be subjected to negative health effects (both physical and emotional) if we experience chronic stress for an extended period.
How Can Good Stress Be Beneficial?
Good stress can improve your mood and help you perform your best. But those aren’t the only benefits.
Cognitive benefits: Research suggests that short-term stress positively impacts memory. This can be useful in some situations, such as when taking an exam.
Increased resilience: When you face a stressful situation, it can help you learn more about yourself, your skills, and your limits.
A strengthened immunity: While bad stress hurts your immune system, some research indicates that short-term stressors can help improve your body’s ability to deal with illness and injury.