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Weekly Wellness Tip: How to recognise Both Good and Bad Stress
15 June 2022

Weekly Wellness Tip: How to recognise Both Good and Bad Stress

Published on 15 June 2022

College Of Law - New Zealand    FrontTier

Whether it stems from our personal lives, careers or elsewhere, we all experience stress from time to time. Sometimes it can be anxiety inducing and uncomfortable, but did you know there is also a good type of stress that is a pivotal part of our well-being?

What is good stress?

Contrary to common belief, some stress is beneficial toward living a healthy and fulfilling life. Good stress is called “eustress,” and you may be more familiar with it as a feeling of excitement or eagerness. For example, you may have felt eustress when starting a new job, getting married, travelling, engaging in physical exercise, or even riding a rollercoaster.

This type of positive stress challenges us and keeps us motivated—providing opportunities to learn, accomplish new things and achieve our goals—while also preventing us from becoming bored or even depressed.

What about unhealthy stress?

While there are good types of stress, there are also, of course, negative and harmful forms of stress, otherwise known as chronic stress. Chronic stress happens when we repeatedly feel inescapable stressors, such as being unhappy at home, feeling constantly overwhelmed at work or dealing with ongoing effects of illness.

It is stress which is constant and persists over an extended period of time and can be debilitating and overwhelming. Chronic stress can affect both our physical and psychological well-being by causing a variety of problems including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.

Finding balance

You will never be able to completely cut stress out of your life. Rather, it is important to find ways to manage your stress. Part of stress management is having the ability to distinguish between good and bad stress. This can help us be less reactive by putting our feelings of stress into perspective. However, there is much more to striking a healthy balance.

To avoid chronic stress, it is important to take time for rest and relaxation, as well as be aware of personal limitations. It is about having awareness of the activities and obligations that do not contribute to overall fulfilment (such as a negative or toxic friendship) and consciously giving focus on the activities and people that contribute positively to your life.

If you are consistently feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it is important to talk about it. Confide in a friend or family member or seek help from a licensed mental health professional.

**Adapted from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare