We are always on the hunt for new ways to reduce or avoid stress in our lives, and too much stress can definitely wreak havoc on our health, our emotions, and our lives. But stress can be a positive force as well, and attempting to eliminate all of our stress might actually lead to boredom and reduced productivity and success.


The reality is that there are different kinds of stress we encounter – some good, some bad – and the key to overcoming harmful bad stress and embracing positive change and growth promoted by good stress is being able to distinguish between the two and manage stress accordingly.


The short-lived stress of preparing for a test is a kind of good stress that can maximize your performance (huffingtonpost.com)

The short-lived stress of preparing for a test is a kind of good stress that can maximize your performance (huffingtonpost.com)

Good stress, or eustress, occurs as a normal reaction by your body when you sense any kind of physical, mental, or emotional danger or strain, and it serves as a defense mechanism against potential threats. Eustress acts to help you stay focused, rise to meet challenges, and to promote creative thinking and a strong ability to adapt to change, all useful skills when it comes to overcoming obstacles.


Bad stress on the other hand, better known as distress, occurs when we start experiencing a level of stress beyond what is normal and healthy for each of us on an individual basis, and rather than promote success and help us for the better, it ends up inhibiting us and our ability to function. When the body becomes overwhelmed by different stressors in your life, you start experiencing things like anxiety and helplessness, and this is when stress goes from being a positive force to a negative one.


In order for stress to serve as a positive drive, it’s important that it is short-lived and not overly frequent. It will likely appear in occasional bursts to push you and encourage you to step up to meet a challenge. Whether that challenge is a test you have been studying for or a presentation at work, all of these stressors are events which will overwhelm you temporarily but will ultimately create good stress that motivates you to work harder and more effectively than you would without feeling any kind of pressure.


The ongoing and constant nature of bad stress which can be caused by such things as family problems or dissatisfaction at work, however, goes far beyond temporary pressure and instead becomes a force that is consistently weighing you down, and this can have serious repercussions when it comes to your well-being.


Optimum stimulation occurs when you find a stress level within your recovery zone (cybercity-online.net)

Optimum stimulation occurs when you find a healthy stress level within your recovery zone (cybercity-online.net)

The important thing about managing stress is to understand that everybody experiences it differently based on factors like personality, environment, and personal circumstances. However, everybody has a recovery zone, and you can maximize your abilities, success, and growth by finding a level of stress within that recovery zone that serves as a positive force in your life. When you become more aware of how you perceive and respond to stress, you will be able to develop a better understanding of how you are affected by stress, what your resistance is, and when your stress has gone from helping you to hurting you.


If you come to recognize that your stress levels have reached a point at which they are no longer benefiting you, that is when it is time to take advantage of the many tools and tricks which may help you bring those levels back down to your recovery zone, such as taking walks daily to clear your mind, or having breakfast regularly, since starting off the day without adequate fuel may trigger unhealthy stress levels.


However, a stress-free life is by no means the key to success and happiness. Not only is a little stress innocuous, but it might just be necessary to maximize your potential and quality of life.


Do you feel you perform at your best when experiencing some stress? What are some of your tricks for managing stress to keep it at a level within your recovery zone? Share with us below or tweet me @tamarahoumi