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5 Reasons STRESS can be good for you Good Stress vs. Bad Stress

Whenever we hear the word stress, we instinctively assume it’s a negative emotion, high anxiety, burn-out, an emotional meltdown and most of the time, you’d be right.

But there are times when stress can be a good thing. Positive stress that is and here are 5 reasons stress can be a good thing.

Stress can be positive, it depends on how you perceive it. Positive stress, otherwise known as eustress, is the type of stress we feel when we get excited. Think of how you feel when you’re planning a holiday, a wedding or birthday celebration, getting on a rollercoaster, about to take a bungee jump, that sort of thing. Positive or negative, the hormones produced are the same.

Our stress response, also known as fight or flight, is key to our survival, without it we wouldn’t have lasted very long as a species. Imagine early humans cruising the savannah, not a care in the world, blissfully unaware of threat or danger, walking straight into the jaws of a sabre-tooth tiger. The story would not have ended well, I would very likely not be here today, and nor would you.

While negative stress can be overwhelming, preventing you from thinking straight, positive stress can get you into a flow state, into the zone.

Here are 5 reasons we all need a little positive stress (eustress) in our lives:

  1. Stress keeps us alert, focused and motivated. Stress is quite literally, a call to action. When you release adrenaline (one of your fight or flight hormones) your heart and lungs get a jump start, sending oxygen to your brain and major muscles, giving you a boost of strength and enhancing vision and hearing. Think SAS, elite athletes… 007, you get the drift.

  2. Stress forces us into problem-solving. When you are in a flow state, your subconscious mind is wide open, fully engaged, and on the hunt for solutions. When you are in a tight spot, your subconscious and conscious mind join forces and go into hyperdrive. At lightning speed, you’re weighing up your options, looking for opportunities, and making decisions and choices all within seconds. You’re in a pickle, a jam, you act now, think later. Often referred to as “The 5-Second Rule” whereby instead of overthinking and being hijacked by fear, you have this amazing 5-second window, to be courageous. A hero. The real Jason Bourne. Hopefully.

  3. Stress helps build confidence. After a stressful situation has been overcome, dealt with, or eradicated, you are left with a feeling of euphoria. And rightly so. You took on the Goliath, you climbed K2, you conquered the world! Your world at least. These thoughts and feelings release endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and your feel-good hormones!

  4. Stress forces us to develop new skills. So you’ve slain the proverbial dragon and when you look back, you have acquired, and perhaps even perfected a brand new skill. One that is now firmly embedded in your subconscious mind to be retrieved and put into practice any time you might need it in the future. Now you build on that skill. You begin to expand the idea, adapt it, and put it to use in a plethora of situations, imaginary and otherwise. You’re a boss!

  5. Positive stress can improve your health (in the short term). Everyone knows that chronic stress is contrary to good health, however cortisol, another hormone produced when we are stressed, increases the release of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream which in turn helps to repair tissue, reduce inflammation, enhance memory formulation, as well as helping to regulate salt and water balance to control blood pressure.

As with most things, moderation is key when dealing with stress. How you perceive stress determines how it will affect you. You can feel the adrenaline mounting, rip open your shirt and rise to the challenge, or you can allow the feeling to overwhelm and consume you.

Next time you find yourself feeling negatively stressed, notice it, take a few deep breaths, and rather than let it take charge of you, take charge of it. With practice and with patience, you can choose how to deploy your stress hormones.


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