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Benefits of Positive Stress: Motivate, Energize and Enhance Life

stress scrabble word

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Stress, an ever present part of modern life, carries a negative connotation especially as we get older. For men in their 50s, stress is seen as a possible health risk. In life, stress is inevitable but not all stress is bad or harmful  There are difference between good stress and bad stress, however, we hardly ever discuss the benefits of positive stress.


Understanding  and taking advantage of the benefits of positive stress can change our difficulties into opportunities for growth and improvement. This article hopes to help redefine the conversation around stress, focusing on its potential for motivation and self improvement.


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Stress

The Nature of Stress

Stress includes both physical and psychological responses to demands or pressures. Although, while usually looked upon negatively, stress can actually be beneficial in some ways, based on someone’s perception and the physical response. Events like marriage can highlight how identical situations can cause an opposite stress type in some people: eustress, or positive stress, versus distress, or negative stress. We have the ability to change our perceptions of stress [1].



Eustress, defined by psychologist Hans Selye as a positive form of stress that has beneficial effects on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being. It is in contrast with distress, which has negative impacts.


Difference Between Good Stress and Bad Stress

Eustress, the positive type of stress, comes out when challenges are seen as manageable or when they align with one’s capabilities or experience, resulting in beneficial stress.  This beneficial stress motivates and enhances performance. On the opposite end of stress, distress comes from overwhelming situations or tasks looked upon as beyond someone’s control.  This leads to negative experiences such as anxiety or depression. A person’s control over stressors greatly impacts whether stress becomes eustress or distress. Therefore, purposely starting a new activity can foster a positive stress experience, whereas involuntary stressors, like job loss, usually generate distress [2][3]. 


The following highlights why the differences in stress impact someone either positively or negatively.


  1. Effect on Performance:
    • Good Stress: Improves performance and productivity.
    • Bad Stress: Impairs performance and leads to decreased productivity.
  2. Duration:
    • Good Stress: Short-term and temporary.
    • Bad Stress: Prolonged and chronic.
  3. Response:
    • Good Stress: Generates feelings of excitement and motivation.
    • Bad Stress: Triggers anxiety, fear, and negative emotions.
  4. Outcome:
    • Good Stress: Results in personal growth, learning, and achievement.
    • Bad Stress: Can lead to health problems, burnout, and decreased quality of life.
  5. Management:
    • Good Stress: Easily manageable and can be harnessed for positive outcomes.
    • Bad Stress: Requires active coping strategies and may necessitate professional intervention to mitigate its effects.


The Surprising Benefits of Positive Stress

Cognitive and Emotional Enrichment

An interesting thing about positive stress is its ability to improve cognitive function. Research has demonstrated that manageable levels of stress stimulate the growth of new neurons, boosting memory and learning ability. This can lead to improved problem-solving skills and a sharper mind. Moreover, successfully managing stress-inducing situations can lead to a sense of resilience and empowerment, boosting emotional well-being and self-confidence [4].


Man looking at laptop looks stressed - benefits of positive stress - difference between good stress and bad stress

Building Resilience and Well-Being

Good stress helps not only in the short term but also builds long-term resilience and self-esteem. By accepting and overcoming stressful scenarios, people develop coping mechanisms that can be applied to future challenges. This is like muscle development in that; the more the muscle is worked, the stronger it becomes. Doing activities that cause positive stress, like physical exercise or creative pursuits, can strengthen mental health and build a more positive outlook on life [5].


Harnessing the Benefits of Positive Stress for Health and Well-being

Identifying Differences Between Good and Bad Stress and Utilizing Good Stress

Understanding and identifying positive stress from negative distress can help us to use eustress effectively. Positive stress typically comes from facing new, challenging, but manageable situations that push us out of our comfort zones [6].  Recognizing and managing these situations help us better able to deal with future stressors.  By managing these positive stressors we end up stronger for it.


Once you are able to differentiate the two types of stress, you can use positive stress to:

  • Make you more resilient
  • Improve your immune system in the short term (as a result of preparing for fight or flight)
  • Motivate you to succeed
  • Build your self esteem
  • Improve your ability to deal with similar stressors in the future


Examples of Positive Stress

Examples of eustress for men wanting to regain their edge:

  • Training for a competitive event or marathon
  • Pursuing a promotion or starting a new business venture
  • Engaging in challenging hobbies like mountaineering or martial arts
  • Learning new skills, such as a foreign language or musical instrument
  • Setting and achieving significant personal fitness goals
  • Planning and executing a travel adventure
  • Starting a challenging DIY project or home renovation
  • Mentoring or coaching younger people in your field of expertise
  • Volunteering for a cause that is meaningful to you
  • Returning to school or taking online courses for career advancement
  • Organizing a community event or local sports league


Practical Strategies for Cultivating the Benefits of Positive Stress

To master positive stress, it’s important to use strategies that allow us to maintain balance and prevent positive stress from becoming distress. Therefore, doing activities that challenge us, such as learning a new skill or setting achievable goals, can induce eustress. In addition, having the right mindset of viewing changes and challenges as opportunities can further improve our ability to master positive stress. This can involving using positive vs. negative self talk or thinking [7][8]


Some specific strategies you can use include:


  • Positive thinking or self talk
  • Meditation or deep breathing
  • Exercise
  • Regular sleep –  quantity and quality
  • Time management
  • Social interaction
  • Hobbies 


Conclusion: Embracing the Benefits of Positive Stress

While stress usually carries a negative perception, understanding its positive counterpart, eustress, can greatly improve our lives. Taking on challenges as opportunities for growth, and keeping a balanced perspective can change our experience towards stress. Thus, by looking at the benefits and managing stress effectively, we can improve our health, motivation, and overall wellness. Let’s change our mindset towards the positive aspects of stress and use its potential to improve our lives.

Check out Coping Strategies for Depression and Anxiety: Powerful Life Options.

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Therefore always seek the support and guidance of your physician when you are unsure about any health issues.

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Daily Tip

Alcohol? Red Wine is the Better Choice

Pouring a glass of red wineChoose red wine when drinking alcohol for a number of health benefits. First, it contains antioxidants like resveratrol, which support heart health by improving cholesterol levels and blood flow. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that boost overall health. Plus, moderate consumption of it may help improve gut health and support longevity. With these benefits, it stands out as a healthier option compared to other alcoholic beverages. So, next time you want to drink alcohol, choose red wine for its health benefits.

Check out Easy Choices Hard Life, Hard Choices the Best Life.

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