One irony of life is that you need good stress. And in certain ways, you can fight bad stress with healthy stress. In other words, the experience of stress is a vital aspect of personal growth and properly handling life’s future challenges.
When you don’t have enough pressure in your life and the correct kind, you fail to improve and grow stronger as a person. But when you have too much unhealthy stress, your body and mind break down, weakening you. The key is learning not all stress is bad and welcoming some stress in our lives.
It’s wise to develop a mindset about stress that differs from avoidance at all costs. Rather than running from all discomfort, embracing some tension is the surest way towards resilience and personal growth.
Good and Bad Stress
Stress is often broken into two major categories: toxic stress and eustress. Not surprisingly, toxic stress is harmful to your resilience and growth. It wears you out, steals your energy, and dissolves your motivation. It isn’t long before burnout or depression is on the horizon if this unhealthy pressure becomes chronic stress and you can’t find adequate coping skills to manage and diminish it.
Eustress, on the other hand, is helpful and good for you. You feel its pressure and resistance but consistently break through its barriers. Just like physical conditioning makes you stronger in time, despite its challenges, eustress strengthens your abilities as you regularly bear up under its weight. Eustress is motivating and energizing because you get a lot done and can recognize ways you’re improving as a person.
The Stress of Not Having Enough Stress
Good and bad stress tend to get discussed frequently. When it comes to unhealthy stress symptoms, we usually think of someone overloaded for so long that they finally crumble under the weight of their many unsustainable responsibilities. Or, we imagine someone in a toxic work environment. Day after day, they leave even more drained than their previous work day.
That imagery is understandable because those scenarios happen way too often regarding unhealthy stress. At the same time, another specific form of bad stress involves not having enough healthy stress.
Experiencing a stress deficit in your life can, ironically, be quite stressful. It means you’re not accomplishing your purpose as you could. It also means you aren’t growing as a person as you would be if you regularly experienced challenging yet conquerable eustress.
Maybe you immediately imagine a shiftless person with no interest in doing any form of work. While that certainly can happen, the stress of not having enough stress also occurs in the workplace. It also occurs at school and home.
Think of the many millions of people in the workforce who want more responsibility but never get the chance. Or people with great ideas that would improve their company, but they’re never given the voice to share their thoughts.
Many people go through their days largely unengaged, bored, apathetic, and burned out. Not because they’re short-circuiting under too many demands, but because they experience the opposite and equally unhealthy extreme of too little stress.
Developing a Positive View of Good Stress
Drinking too much water is unhealthy, just as not getting enough will be harmful. The same goes for food, exercise, and plenty of other life aspects. Just because too little and too much water is unhealthy doesn’t mean water is bad for you. In the same way, just because too much and too little stress is unhealthy doesn’t mean all stress should be viewed negatively.
We’d all benefit from viewing stress more positively. Ironically, we all need stress to improve and grow as people. For that reason, developing an optimistic view of stress can take you much further. You become less risk averse and embrace discomfort, knowing that you can get closer to who you want to become through the challenges that stress brings.
Our culture tends to villainize stress with one broad stroke of the pen. But it’s wise to remember it’s good for you to face healthy but rigorous obstacles. Just like athletes train hard and face discomfort along the path to their goals, feeling the discomfort of stress doesn’t necessarily mean you’re off track. You may be precisely where you need to be. Finding a place where this type of stress is typical for your life is a great stress relief strategy in itself.
At the same time, watch out for toxic stress, either in the form of too much negative pressure or not enough good pressure. Both extremes only lead to ever-increasing stress levels. The key is to keep learning how to strike a healthy balance, which is a lifelong lesson.
In his “Psychology Today” article entitled Low-to-Moderate Doses of Stress May Fortify Resilience, Christopher Bergland shares the following:
“Finding the sweet spot of daily stress that’s “just right” can be tricky. It’s important to remember that too much stress can be detrimental, but too little stress also has its downsides.”
Don’t get discouraged if you stray off course as you pursue a healthy stress balance. Everyone’s journey has plenty of ups and downs. The key is to keep learning and not give up.
Struggling to Cope with Stress? Consider Stress Counseling
If you feel frazzled lately, please know that many individuals experience acute stress like you. And we all face significant difficulties during specific times of our lives. When stress becomes overwhelming, it’s tough knowing where to find help. The good news is that stress counseling can often make a positive difference.
You can learn how to relieve stress factors that trouble you through therapy. You’ll also discover a better idea of how to maintain healthy stress levels with proper balance. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about how the OC Relationship Center can assist you. You can also schedule an appointment with us.