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Your Healthy Mind

Good stress and bad stress: here's the difference

Posted by Priya Sholanki, MSW, RSW on Apr 30, 2018 5:12:07 PM
A rollercoaster reaches the apex of a hill.
It’s said that stress is the difference between our expectations and our reality. And, sometimes, that can be a good thing.

There’s good stress – that’s called eustress – that motivates us. It pushes us to reach our goals and strive towards something we want.

Eustress can be thought of like exercise – your muscles might hurt, but you come out on the other side stronger, more resilient and a little more immune. When you push yourself, you can extend your limits.

We also feel bad stress – distress – when we feel like we’ve pushed too far. It happens when we start to get overwhelmed, when the gap between what we think we can achieve and our expectations gets too big, and we begin to feel defeated.

It can lead to withdrawal, anxiety, depression and can even impact us physically. Over a sustained period of time, it becomes unhealthy.

But, here’s the thing: Your body doesn’t know the difference between good and bad stress. The difference is in how you think about it. Your mindset plays a critical role. It’s why optimistic people tend not to let their problems weigh them down as much.

That’s not to say you can think all your problems away. If you’re drowning in projects, you’ve undergone a traumatic experience, or some other significant event has happened to you, it’s not just ‘in your head.’ You can’t control the world around you.

But, you can control your response. Here are four ways to beat stress.


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Topics: Stress, Post-Secondary Education, Working adults