Deal With Stress

Good Stress Versus Bad Stress

It is important to understand the difference between good stress versus bad stressThe term stress has become a widely used word with a bad reputation. It is usually used to either let people know not to give us any more to deal with or to let them know how much we are already doing, how busy and therefore important we are. Besides the personal connotations that each of us places on stress, in the following article we will look at areas in which stress can be good and where it is bad.

What is stress?

It isn’t easy to find a generally acceptable definition of ‘stress’. Doctors, engineers, psychologists, management consultants, linguists and lay-persons all use the word in their own distinctive ways with their own definition. Stress basically is a ‘demand made upon the adaptive capacities of the mind and body’.

This definition is useful in three ways:

(1) Stress can be both good and bad,

(2) It is not so much events that determine whether we are stressed or not, it is our reaction to them, and

(3) The definition tells us that stress is a demand made upon the body’s capacities. If our capacities are good enough, we respond well. If they are not sufficient, we give way.

Because of the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience, but from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience.

Physiologists define stress as how the body reacts to a stressor, real or imagined, a stimulus that causes stress. Acute stressors affect an organism in the short term; chronic stressors over the longer term.

Good stress

Reality is that we experience some form of stress daily. If the level of stress in relation to our ability to cope with it is in balance, good stress helps us to achieve and finish things. If we, for example, suddenly realise that it is 12pm and we still have to go to the shop to buy groceries for lunch, we might experience the rush of adrenalin, feel a bit rushed and yet it gets us out of the door and back in time to have lunch ready when the children are back from school.

Bad stress

Persistent stress that is not adequately managed will lead to distress, anxiety and potentially withdrawal behaviour like depression. It is not that we can pinpoint a specific form of stress to be unhelpful, everything has the potential to become unhealthy over time if we do not resolve, learn to cope or adapt to what brings us stress.

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Nathalie Himmelrich is the founder of ‘Reach for the Sky Therapy’ on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and specialises in ‘relationship related issues’. She is working with individuals and couples using techniques ranging from Counselling, Neuro Linguistic Programming to Journey Therapy. She supports clients in their personal growth in a supportive and professional environment.

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2 replies on “Good Stress Versus Bad Stress”

I loved this article because the positive side of stress is rarely discussed. I am most efficient on days where I have a tight schedule, but on days when I only have a few things on my to-do list, I just don’t operate at that same level. The key, I think, is to know where your personal limit is – at what point the good stress turns into the bad. Thanks for sharing this, Nathalie!

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