Is stress always bad for us? Absolutely not.
You take you dog for a walk and throw the stick a bit too high, expecting him to catch it. He does. Next time you throw it even higher, challenging his capacity. He catches every time pushing his strength and ability. Would you say you are stressing your dog? No. Is the dog stressing himself? No.
You signed up for dance competition. You are a talented dancer and you want to win. Your friends and family are cheering you to win. Are they stressing you? No. Are you stressing yourself? No.
Your child has to write a test. He is okay at studies and just needs to be pushed a bit sometimes. Are you stressing him by pushing him? No.
All the above questions are examples of eustress. We can call it the 'positive stress' or 'the good stress'. We know stress is bad for human mental health, but eustress is another stress which is not only highly beneficial but also required and greatly recommended for our health, progress, safety, accomplishments and well-being.
It is that stress that your body and mind can easily handle, and even need it to rise higher in life or a particular field, propel you towards realising your dreams or ambitions, acts as a motivation, helps you take up healthy challenges and even enjoy the stress in some cases such as during adventure rides, races, competitions or watching horror films.
We need eustress to stay put at a task, to complete assignments, to pass our tests, to motivate ourselves to accomplish something such as getting good grades, inspiration for novel tasks such as trying out a new hobby, slimming down etc.
Most adventure sports, all kinds of sports, races, competitions, adventure parks/ rides, horror movies, psychological thrillers, etc all provide us the eustress -the healthy stress that make us want to live, enjoy, win, dare, accomplish and be adventurous with our thoughts, deeds and ambitions. Now you know why children and teens always want to try something new and daring!
If there were no eustress, we would just not feel like doing anything, hanging in a state of limbo, like a chicken that wants to stay inside the broken shell even though it has long since hatched, or a boat that is scared of getting wet, so it stays bound to the shore.
Without eustress we would never want to win, or excel, or even complete our tasks..!
Eustress is the opposite of distress, but not a synonym of motivation. Instead, it is what allows the motivation to start working on you.
The ultimate goal of any psychologist is to find a balance between your hyperstress and hypostress, and have as much eustress as possible.
Positive stress helps improve our performance whether they are athletic, academic, intellectual, sports, work, social, physical or moral. In fact, it pervades all fields.
Examples of eustress:
- Meeting or engaging in a challenge
- Desired physical exercise (e. g.weight training, running, biking)
- Daring hobbies and passtimes
- Playing sports
- Watching a suspenseful or scary movie
- Riding a roller coaster/ adventure rides/ adventure sports
- Competing in a tournament
- Playing Chess, or other games
Bottom line: Let us just remember that not all stress is bad!
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