Stress is inevitable in our lives. It is also helpful and healthy to have stress as it can help propel us forward in our lives and careers, encourage us to create boundaries for ourselves, and to help us structure our days to reduce negative stress.
So, how can you tell the difference between “normal” stress and “negative” stress? Normal or good stress actually has a name. The term eustress defines this type of stress as a, “normal or moderate amount of stress that is beneficial to the individual experiencing it” (Oxford).
Eustress can be found in events like:
- Riding a roller coaster
- Watching a scary movie
- Doing a fun and challenging activity
- Starting a new job
Eustress is normally short term and can motivate us and even enhance our performance in our work or in other activities we participate in. The opposite can be found in what is termed as distress.
This negative stress can leave us feeling drained, anxious and can decrease our performance level for work or activities. Similar to eustress, distress can also be short-term, but if left unmanaged or managed poorly can also last longer and become chronic. If you find yourself dealing with chronic or consistent distress, it can have a poor impact on your physical health and lead to sleep issues like insomnia, headaches, and high blood pressure (Summa Health).
Incorporating daily routines in your life can help start to reduce negative stress. Things as simple as choosing your outfit can lead to unnecessary stress, so keep things as simple as possible for yourself.
Pack your lunch the night before, keep your essential items (keys, phone, wallet, and glasses or sunglasses) in the same place that is easy to access and that you will see in passing every day. Humans are naturally creatures of habit and routine, so use that to your advantage to help give yourself some structure.
And always remember, progress not perfection— realistic goals and expectations for yourself will also help eliminate negative and unhelpful stress.
Setting goals is an art that takes time, practice, and patience to master. Next month, we’ll be focusing on how we can set really good goals for ourselves and look at what growth and lifestyle changes can mean for the goals that we set.
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Rachel Palepale has been part of the First Capital Gym team since November 2021. She has been coaching since August 2021. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing.