Is all stress equal? Turns out it’s not. While we know there is a link between stress and heart attacks and that stress can affect your body in a myriad of ways, there’s another type of stress that may not be so bad for you after all.
Eustress, defined as “normal psychological stress interpreted as being beneficial for the experiencer,” can help us learn, grow, and adapt to situations we’re bound to encounter again. It has different psychological characteristics than the negative stress we often think about. You may not realize you’re experiencing eustress at all.
What is Eustress?
We experience eustress frequently, and it generally does not harm our lives. There are key characteristics of eustress that are markedly different from the type of stress that weighs on us, damaging our mental health.
Characteristics of eustress include:
- It is motivational and provides an outlet for us to focus energy towards a set goal.
- It is not long-lasting, nor does it have a lasting impact on our mindset.
- It is easy to cope with.
- It may feel exciting. Some people may experience an increase in adrenaline or even euphoria.
- It ultimately leads to improved performance or accomplishment.
- Individuals are left with a positive feeling after eustress subsides.
Examples of Eustress
Many aspects of everyday life cause eustress. It’s a common experience in professionals, students, and athletes. When you’re working on a tight deadline, for example, you may feel temporarily stressed yet relieved when you reach your goal. This is an example of eustress.
Or, leading up to a big game, you may feel anxiety, nervousness, and stress to perform at your best. You’re motivated, driven, and the feeling doesn’t hinder you from playing. This is another example of eustress.
With eustress, you learn to channel the temporary negative feeling towards your ultimate goal. Some people feel a rush of excitement when working on a deadline or a challenging project. While you’re still under pressure to complete the assignment, once you’re done, you feel GR8.
When Eustress is Over
It’s unlikely that you will carry the weight of eustress with you after the precipitating event. You may not even remember the feeling the next day, and if you do, it is unlikely to bring on the same feeling as it did at the moment.
Additionally, it’s likely that next time you face a similar challenge, you will view it with a new perspective and set of skills to accomplish your goal. Consider eustress the fuel to help you achieve your goals.
How to Cope with Eustress
While eustress has positive effects on us in the end, you may still experience negative feelings while you’re in the midst of it. Your heart may race, or you may feel temporarily overwhelmed. These reactions are entirely normal.
Here are some ways to cope with eustress as it happens:
- Use affirmations at work to help overcome roadblocks.
- Learn how to change your perspective on stress.
- Use time management to divide and conquer goals.
Now, think back on the times you felt stress. Your perception may change. Were all the times you have felt stress harmful? It’s unlikely. With a new appreciation for eustress, you can gain a new perspective on everyday stressors and face projects and tasks head-on.