Is There Such a Thing as Good Stress?

For many decades we have been told that stress is harmful and can kill us, but what is stress?

According to one source:

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Stress is any change in the environment that requires your body to react and adjust in response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.

Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you — and many things that you do yourself — put stress on your body. You can experience good or bad forms of stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.

These changes that cause stress can impact the human body in many ways:

Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.

 

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

 

In my own case, I found out some years ago that stress caused my irritable bowel syndrome to flare up. According to a doctor, my wife’s recent bouts with colitis were caused mostly by physical stress brought on by poor sleeping and running herself ragged.

Ok, so stress is bad and should be avoided or dealt with appropriately in order to prevent it from wreaking havoc to our bodies, or is it?

According to a recent article:

We rarely hear people say, “I’m really feeling stressed. Isn’t that great?” But if we didn’t have some stress in our lives—the “good stress” variety—we’d feel rudderless and unhappy. If we define stress as anything that alters our homeostasis, then good stress, in its many forms, is vital for a healthy life. Bad stress can even turn into good stress, and vice versa.

Good Stress vs. Bad Stress

“Good stress,” or what psychologists refer to as “eustress,” is the type of stress we feel when we feel excited. Our pulse quickens and our hormones surge, but there is no threat or fear. We feel this type of stress when we ride a roller coaster, compete for a promotion, or go on a first date. There are many triggers for this good stress, and it keeps us feeling alive and excited about life…

Yes, you can add good stress to your life! Ideally, you choose activities and set goals that make you feel good, happy, and excited. To gauge whether or not an activity is worth your time, pay attention to how the thought of it makes you feel. Do you feel excited? Is it a “want to,” or a “have to”? Be sure your “want to” activities are all things you really do want to do, and your “have to” activities are all absolutely necessary.

Stress is like carbs – most people think of them as being bad, but they both have good and bad. For healthy lives, we need to try to avoid the bad and embrace the good.

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