Eustress and the Positive Effects of Stress

We hear so much about negative effects of stress on health, but we seldom hear anything about positive effects of stress. Not all of the effects of stress are negative. Let's explore what are the positive effects of stress.

positive effects of stress

First of all, let's look at what is stress. We all know what stress feels like - tension, pressure, butterflies in the stomach, nervous, or too much to do.

The first person who defined stress was Hans Seley, the "father" of stress research. He defined stress as: The body's nonspecific response to a demand placed on it. What he means is that your body has a certain reaction to any demands that are placed on you (physically, psychologically, or mentally).

Seley identified two types of stress: good stress and harmful stress.

Seley called the good stress "eustress".

Stress is like spice - in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish.
Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you.
~Donald Tubesing

So, what are the positive effects of stress?

Good stress - eustress - is the spark that drives us to achieve more, to improve the quality of our life, to ask for a raise, to fight for justice, or simply to go on a holiday.

Challenge and thrill are part of stress.

Stress pushes you to grow, to change, to fight, and to adapt. All life events, even positive ones, cause a certain degree of stress. For example getting a new job is a positive change, getting married, falling in love, getting a raise, winning a tennis match.

The challenge of a new situation and the stimulation that it creates might be beneficial to someone's life. It may propel someone to take a risk and take a course at University, or to go out and meet new people, to take on a new hobby, or to learn new sport.

Too little stress leads to boredom. Lack of motivation. Unfulfilled dreams and desires. Not reaching your potential. Low self esteem.

Stress and your brain

Too much stress is harmful for your brain, but so is too little. British researchers found that while chronic exposure to high levels of cortisol damaged hippocampus, the right amount of this hormone could actually enhance learning and memory. That is, the right amount of stress - eustress - is good for your brain.

So, how do we know when it is too much stress or just the right amount of stress?

That varies from person to person. Stress becomes harmful when it exceeds our ability to cope. Seley called this harmful stress "distress".

Continue from Positive Effects of Stress to Causes of Stress.

Related Articles:
Effects of Stress on the Brain
Long Term Effects of Stress
Physiological Effects of Stress
Psychological Effects of Stress


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