Eustress vs. Distress – Developing the Good Kind of Stress

Eustress vs. DistressWhen it comes to stress, most people live in such a constant state of it, that they rarely acknowledge the pressure it puts on their lives or bodies.

However, place a ‘eu’ in front of the word stress and you suddenly have a powerful word that pushes you towards a better life.

Let’s begin with a definition… 

A Definition of Eustress

We all know what stress is.

We also know what distress is and what is can do to your life.

You feel constantly under pressure.

You never feel healthy.

And you’re always filled with anxiety about everything that could go wrong.

On the other hand, there is a good form of stress, simply called “eustress.”The prefix “eu” is Greek for good or positive which indicates that some stress can actually be good for you.The trick is discovering and differentiating eustress from distress.

Why Eustress is Important

Generally speaking, eustress is the kind of pressure that gets you motivated to accomplish something or that leads you to an act of fulfillment.For instance, returning to college is a form of eustress because in the end it has helped you to make positive change in your life. (Even though you may feel some form of distress while you’re trying to get things done.)

Other samples of eustress in your life can be getting a promotion, getting engaged, buying a new home or even planning a big event or party.  Starting an online business, following a dream (no matter how many people tell you it’s stupid) or facing something head on that you are afraid of are also forms of eustress.

What it boils down to is that if your stress is present because you are embracing or seeking change or opportunity, it is generally considered good.If your stress is just due to hopeless worry, frustration or it completely stymies you from taking any action or making any permanent (positive) changes; you are just destroying your mental and physical well-being for no reason.

The Dark Side of Distress

When a person experiences distress in their life it can be paralyzing.Distress is always punctuated by a fear of the unknown and a lack of faith in the principle that life has something good to offer you.

Regardless of what you have mentally conditioned yourself to believe, your future and ‘destiny’ in this world is to be successful, happy and to live in a certain state of abundance that makes you feel fulfilled.

Distress occurs when you live under the cloud of believing the opposite, that you are doomed, stuck in your tracks and that the road ahead will only offer more of the same frustration you feel right now.

Moving From Distress to Eustress

The problem with distress is that few people take any action.When you turn your distress into eustress you are motivated to take the bull by the horns and work furtively towards your goal.

One of the most positive aspects of eustress is that it forces you to live out of your comfort zone.

For instance, you may want to make new connections in your life.You can stress about your loneliness, inability to find a suitable partner and remain stagnant or you can use this stress to push you out of your comfort zone.Rather than spending Friday night alone, you venture out in an attempt to meet new people.You may feel nervous or out of your element, but your eustress has you taking a proactive action on your own behalf.

A personal example of eustress is a seven month solo trip I took to Europe in 2010.  Beforehand, I was stressed because there was a lot to do and this plan was way outside my comfort zone.  But this is the kind of stress that filled me with excitement because It helped me move towards checking an item off my bucket list.

Stop Bitching and Start Doing

Pushing your boundaries is one of the fundamental building blocks of success.When we get too comfortable in any area of our lives our inertia lags and we stop seeking out new opportunities, new people, new ideas, or taking any risks.Then we bitch about how boring life has become.

Millions of people complain about their inability to make ends meet or the beat up car that they are driving.Others are constantly unhappy about their job situation regretting their choices and resenting their boss.Still others may dream of living at the beach and feel that life has let them down.

The list of things to bitch about is endless.And all of these things cause stress which wreaks havoc on us emotionally and physically.Even worse, this negative state of being is all for not.

Yet, by listening to the things in your life that you are unhappy about and taking on the attitude that it is never too late to make something more, realize your dreams and experience the true happiness you deserve you can be motivated into change.

Have the Courage to Take a Chance

You can step out of your cozy little box of discontent and decide that now is the time to utilize your skills and your dreams to implement change.This takes courage and as you expand your comfort zone to include new activities, new people and new opportunities it is acceptable to feel stress; however the difference is that this stress (eustress) leads to something new.

It is important to note that no one in this world came about something good by constantly dwelling in their comfort zone.All good things and everything that you dream about or would like to see in your own life exist outside your own front door.Taking the steps to open that door and therefore open your mind turns your distress into eustress.

Do the Math and Make a Change

We all know math doesn’t lie.The mathematical way to make changes in your life and to experience those things that you wish for, is to use the formula; you+eustress=abundance.

The alternative equation is one of subtraction.

Including more eustress in your life is easier than you think.Each time you notice yourself feeling stuck or distressed; ask yourself what changes you can make right now to make this stress work for you.Sure you might fail or make mistakes, but these are the things that help you grow as a person.

In many ways, the things that worry us the most and cause us the most unhappiness have the ability to cause the most change.You just have to take your stressors in your life, find the verbs that can make them go away and commit to only having ‘eustress’ in your life.

Take Action. Get Results.

4 thoughts on “Eustress vs. Distress – Developing the Good Kind of Stress”

  1. Never heard of eu stress before but it is a valuable distinction and the notion of converting te distress to eu stress with action is golden. Thanks.

    • Yeah, I do believe that stress can be a good thing. It pushes us to become better people…but too much of the bad kind can have a negative impact on our well-being.

  2. Hi Steve

    Really like the YOU + Eustress formula. If you turn your distress into Eustress rather than letting it spiral into more distress and anxiety is the best way to go. It is much healthier to push out of your comfort zone ( which often is not that comfortable) than sinking into despair.

    Nice post Steve!

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