Is There Such a Thing As Good Stress?

Sheri Cyprus

The word stress is often associated with only negative stressors such as overwork and health complications. Yet there is also such a thing as good stress. It's called eustress and that term was coined by scientist Hans Seyle who originated the theory of stress. Eu is Greek for good or well.

Stress typically is used negatively, such as when someone is overworked.
Stress typically is used negatively, such as when someone is overworked.

According to Seyle, when the body reacts to feelings of fear, anger and pain, it also reacts in a similar way to more pleasant feelings such as excitement, anticipation and fulfillment. Both types of stressors cause hormone secretion which may produce a change in blood pressure and other effects in the body. The only real difference between good stress and bad stress is that the positive type is said to not be as harmful to the body's overall wellness. Chronic negative stressors such as overwork and anxiety are thought to create lasting ill effects to the body.

Good stress may be experienced on one's wedding day.
Good stress may be experienced on one's wedding day.

Hans Seyle began researching the concept of stress in 1936 at Montreal, Quebec's McGill University. He noted that stress was the response of the body to try to adapt to stressors. Seyle concluded that if the stress was continued or chronic, a pathological or unhealthy condition could result. Because stress not only affects the body physically, but also mentally and emotionally, good stress may add to one's health and wellness in a positive way.

Actors who experience stage fright might have a greater sense of accomplishment after a performance.
Actors who experience stage fright might have a greater sense of accomplishment after a performance.

Good stress may create emotional feelings of wellness. For example, the stress a law student experiences when studying may result in a strong sense of accomplishment when he or she passes the bar exam and is able to start a career as a lawyer. The fulfillment brought by good stress may also be experienced on one's wedding day or when completing something challenging yet rewarding. For instance, an actor may experience stage fright and have accompanying feelings of stress such as the butterflies in the stomach sensation, sweaty palms and a rapid heartbeat, yet after the performance may feel wonderful at having overcome his/her fear enough to finish the play.

Good stress might cause presenters to practice a speech repeatedly.
Good stress might cause presenters to practice a speech repeatedly.
Stress can often motivate a person to try harder at work or in their studies.
Stress can often motivate a person to try harder at work or in their studies.

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Discussion Comments

anon153299

No stress is good. Stress releases life-shortening chemicals into your system.

obsessedwithloopy

A certain amount of stress in necessary in our lives. In difficult situations, when stress calls for a physical response, it can actually save our life.

Stress becomes a negative force in situations when we have no physical outlet in a tense situations.

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