By Stella Vasileiadou,
It goes without saying that by the word “stress” your mind starts thinking of something negative, without even noticing it. As a consequence, most people claim that all stress is bad for you, but is this even true?
So what is stress really all about?
Stress is actually a normal part of life and can simply be described as the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response.
Positive stress – is there even such thing?
Undoubtedly, at times, stress can serve a quite useful purpose, known as eustress. The latter is characterized by stress that can help motivate you or encourage you. Think about being stressed about that promotion at work, or running the last mile of a marathon: this feeling makes you want to do your best, push you to get things done, be more productive and achieve your goals. In other words, it keeps you on your toes. Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, refers to this as “challenge by choice”. For instance, you decide on your own to “challenge yourself” and step out of your comfort zone, an experience that could be stressful but with a positive sign.
Distress, the bad kind of stress
On the other hand, if you cannot cope with your stress and it becomes a long-term issue, it can seriously interfere in all aspects of your life, having a negative impact on it, known as the so-called “distress”. However, what are the top causes of bad stress among people?
First and foremost, money is said to be the most stressful thing according to the majority of human beings. Questions, such as “Can I really make ends meet?” or “Will we be able to pay bills and rent this month?” are some pretty common examples of phrases that lead to severe anxiety and concern. Plus, other people may even be arguing with their loved ones about money all the time or letting the feeling of guilt about spending money on non-essential things take control over them. Financial stress is thought to be one of the main factors that are responsible for a wide range of health issues such as depression, skin problems or even diabetes. It can totally wear you out.
Secondly, work stress is quite common as well, especially during the present age of the global economic crisis. For instance, too much work on a extra demanding project, not being satisfied with a certain job or career, a bad working environment, facing discrimination or harassment at work (especially if your colleagues are not on your side) and even seasonal work could totally lead to a drop in a person’s work performance, which implies disinterest, inability to take initiatives and to make a decision, higher levels of frustration and consequently problems with personal relationships.
Last but not least, nowadays, the stress of being too busy is getting more and more common. We are actually more or less forced to get used to a fast-paced, high-pressured lifestyle: people are busier than ever. Some people have to work a second job, to make ends meet and feed their family. Other people are afraid to say “no” to their loved ones because they may not want to reject or disappoint them and as a result they are not able to have time for themselves, leading to a vicious cycle of stress due to exhaustion.
Although stress is normal and to some extent, a necessary part of life, it is very important that you change your mindset by improving the way you respond to it and adding positive activities to your lifestyle to promote eustress, in order to create a healthy balance in your life.
- Verywellmind, The Main Causes of Stress-What impacts you most may not be the same as for someone else. Available here.
- Ulifeline, How do you tell the difference between good stress and bad? Available here.
- The healthy, Bad Stress vs Good Stress: How to Know the Difference. Available here.
- Mentalhelp, Types of Stressors (Eustress vs Distress). Available here.
- Clevelandclinic, Stress. Available here.