“Isn’t it great that I am feeling stressed today?” This is something we rarely hear people say. Most of the time, we aren’t aware of the surprising health benefits of stress. Stress can be a friend you did not know you wanted. And as long as it’s not chronic, atress can be a positive addition to your life. The key is identifying good stress from negative stress.
Good stress vs. Bad stress
We differentiate 3 types of stress. Acute stress, chronic stress and good stress. Let’s start with acute stress. This stress type is created by a sudden situation that comes a surprise and that needs to be responded to quickly. This is the kind of stress we normally think of as negative. But actually, it doesn’t take a heavy toll if we find ways to relax again relatively quickly. To return to a healthy and happy state, we need to return our bodies to the state before the stress, also called homeostasis.
Secondly, we have chronic stress, the other form of negative stress. This form can be triggered by, for example, a stressful job or an unhappy family life. If we repeatedly face stressors, it can take a heavy toll on our bodies and negative health effects can occur, both physically and emotionally.
And lastly, there is positive stress. Also referred to by psychologists as ‘eustress‘. We experience positive stress when we experience a sense of excitement, such as a first date or a competition for a promotion. In those moments, our heart rate accelerates and the hormones in our body rise without any threat or fear being present. These triggers keep us alive and excited about life. So adding good stress to your life is definitely possible. Choose activities and goals that make you feel happy and excited.
Transform bad stress into good stress
As with most things, too much is also never beneficial. And the same goes positive stress. This stress can turn into a negative state if you experience it too often, because your stress response is triggered anyway. You get an accumulated effect when you add chronic stress or various other stressors.
The good news is that it’s possible to turn negative stress into positive stress when we no longer see something as a threat but instead as a challenge. Doing this more often leads to an automatic reflex. You start to experience more good stress than bad stress, to do this try to see the benefits of the situation, remind yourself of your strengths, and above all think positively. Change your perception of stress where you can, and add positive activities to promote good stress. Together, these strategies will help you create a healthy balance in your life.