Hasn’t stress always been perceived as “harmful”? Something that has negative effects on our body & mind?
How can it be good, then?
Let’s start with understanding how our body reacts to stressful situations.
Under stress, our body releases the hormone cortisol which initiates a fight or flight response. This triggers our nervous system and prepares the body to fight the stressor, or flee the situation. In moderation, the fight or flight response can boost our energy levels and motivate us to do better at the job at hand. This is why moderate levels of stress are said to be beneficial and even healthy for us.
However, constant periods of stress can deplete the energy in our body, leading to fatigue and a compromised immune system. This leads to several health issues like diabetes, slow metabolism, low immunity, sleep issues and fatigue.
Hans Selye, the Founder of Stress Theory introduced the two types of stress: eustress and distress.
What is Distress (bad stress)?
Distress is an unpleasant feeling or emotion that can negatively affect us. It can affect the way we think, feel and act and may lead to serious lifestyle disorders if not managed well. Impact of distress on our body & mind:
- Slow metabolism
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Headaches & body aches
- Changes in appetite or digestion issues
- Lack of sleep
What is Eustress (good stress)?
Eustress refers to the low amount of stress that energizes and motivates us to work towards our goals. Think about a rollercoaster. Even if we’re stressed at the mere thought of getting on to it, it still feels great to do it! That’s eustress for you. It can have the following effects on our body & mind:
- Increased focus
- Better productivity
- Positive outlook
3 ways moderate stress (Eustress) helps us be our most awesome selves
Under eustress, your heart may be pounding, you may be sweating, and you may feel the adrenaline rush through your veins. While it doesn’t always feel good, it is actually good for us. Here are 3 ways eustress helps us:
- Builds resilience
Moderate stress helps us think ‘out of the box’ or go above and beyond to look for the solution to a problem. As we overcome the initial stressful period, we tend to feel more in control of our situation, building resilience and confidence. After coming out of a stressful situation triumphant, we feel more equipped to handle difficult situations in the future.
A study conducted at the University of California found that moderate stress can improve cognitive performance. Brief stressful events can proliferate into new nerve cells, which improve mental performance. Short periods of moderate stress keep our brain alert and improve performance.
- Improves motivation
A little bit of stress works wonders in pushing us to do better. For example, if you’ve been assigned a new project at work that excites you, you’re more likely to experience a moderate level of stress, driving you to do a great job at it. The cortisol rush can kick us into gear sometimes.
Positive stress encourages a positive reaction. So the next time you’re mildly stressed, take a minute to yourself, sip on your favourite cuppa and get ready to take the world by storm!
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