I’m stressed, you’re stressed- everybody’s stressed! What do I mean by that? Everyone experiences stress on a daily basis, but it might not be in the way that you’re typically used to thinking about it.
There are two types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is a positive form of stress that makes you feel motivated, energized, excited, and your performance at a task is enhanced. Distress is a negative form of stress, and typically what people are referring to when they say that they are stressed out. Distress has all kinds of negative effects like anxiety, inability to cope with the situation, mental/physical illness, and decreased performance.
Stressors are the events that trigger our feelings of stress. Stressors are different for everyone and the way that we interpret those stressors will dictate whether we feel eustress or distress. Think about the following events: new job, baby, marriage, buying a house, moving, ending a relationship. Depending upon your outlook, any of these events can be perceived as positive or negative.
My point in saying all of this is that by only thinking of “stress” in negative terms (distress), we overlook all of the times that stress (eustress) helps us reach our goals and feel accomplished. By understanding your stressors and how you react to them, you will be better able to take steps to decrease your distress and take on tasks that enhance your eustress.
Everyone is stressed, but not everyone is distressed. Understanding yourself, your stressors, and your reactions to those stressors can help you manage your distress and lead a more productive, happy life.
By Kristen Keyes