Mind & Body

Leave Distress Behind, and Embrace "Eustress"

Most people generally consider stress to be a bad thing — something that weighs on you when bills are piling up, friends are upset with you, or you have too much to do in a single day. But on the opposite side of the coin from bad stress, or "distress," there's a positive form called "eustress" — and it comes with a bounty of benefits.

Put the "Eu" in Stress

We've all felt the drive to achieve something great. While that drive can be considered stressful, most wouldn't see it as a bad thing. That's eustress in action. Some forms of eustress are obvious, like starting a new job, getting married, or moving to a new city. In general, this type of stress is motivating and energizing, providing incentives to do well.

Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference between eustress and distress. Eustress tends to be a short-lived type of pressure, one that's exciting and feels relatively easy to cope with. Distress, on the contrary, can last for any amount of time and can make you feel like you don't have the capacity to cope. That kind of stress has the tendency to make you perform below your abilities, and can even cause physical problems.

You've Got This

So how do you bring more eustress to your life? Instead of perceiving a demanding project at work as negative, stop and remind yourself that stress can be good for you. When experiencing distress, we tend to focus on external factors with thoughts like, "My boss gave me an impossible project." To transform your situation into eustress, try focusing internally with thoughts like: "I've got this! This project will be hard work, but I'm capable, and it'll be rewarding." It's all about perspective!

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Find out more in "The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It" by Kelly McGonagal. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Ashley Hamer May 2, 2017

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