Good Stress vs. Bad Stress: Do You Know the Difference?
We experience stress in all areas of our lives. A life-changing event like parenthood, a job promotion, ending or beginning a relationship, a health crisis, losing a loved one, or simply taking on more responsibilities at work or home can cause stress.
Did you know that people can experience good stress and bad stress?
Both types of stress present the same symptoms. These symptoms include moodiness, anger, increased breathing and heart rate, nausea, and an increase in hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
Can you tell the difference between good stress and bad stress?
Knowing more about the subtle differences between good stress and bad stress can help you make better decisions about your health, relationships, career, and other important milestones in your life.
What is Good Stress?
Good stress, or Eustress, occurs when you engage in pleasurable activities such as visiting an amusement park or competing in a sporting event. Eustress can also occur when you're in competition for a job, or when you're up for a promotion at work.
And while this type of stress can cause a wide range of emotions and increase hormone production, Eustress typically lasts only until the event causing the stress ends. A short-term type of stress that helps you maintain your focus and energy, Eustress disappears quickly.
That's a good thing because you don't want any type of stress to linger. Prolonged or chronic stress (good or bad) can cause major health issues such as a stroke or heart attack.
But if you can recognize good stress, you can harness the extra energy to focus on getting difficult tasks done. Good stress also helps your body complete tough challenges like a running a marathon, competing in a bicycle race, or finishing a tennis match.
What is Bad Stress?
Bad stress, or acute stress, creates a fight or flight response in your body. You feel this type of stress when faced with an impossible challenge, when you need to make heart-breaking or life and death decisions, or when you feel overwhelmed.
And even though this type of stress can sharpen your focus and provide adrenaline for your body, acute stress should never be allowed to linger as it can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and serious health issues.
When you feel acute stress, you need to take a few moments to calm down. Allowing your mind and body to process what's going on can help you think more clearly without having anger and other emotions cloud your judgment.
Can Bad Stress and Good Stress Coexist?
Bad stress and good stress can occur at the same time. In some cases, you may be able to take a situation that's causing bad stress and turn it into a good stress situation.
Unfortunately, the reverse is also possible. When under a lot of stress, it can be difficult to determine whether you're suffering from good stress or bad stress.
The best course of action in a good stress/bad stress scenario requires you to resolve the issue causing the stress as quickly as possible.
7 Ways to Reduce Good and Bad Stress
Reducing stress can help you differentiate between good stress and bad stress. People manage stress in different ways. Some people focus on work, while other people engage in their favorite hobbies or spend time with family and friends. Some people increase sensory stimulation by fidgeting with sensory toys.
How you reduce stress is really up to you. However, the goal remains the same: Learn how to recognize good stress and bad stress. Reduce or eliminate situations that only cause bad stress, while limiting situations that cause good stress.
Allowing a little bit of stress into your life can help you stay focused and energized. However, too much of any type of stress can cause serious physical and emotional health problems.
Here are seven ways to reduce stress:
Get Enough Sleep – Most people need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night to feel rested and energized the next day. Create a comfortable sleeping area for yourself by investing in a quality mattress and bedding. Avoid alcohol and sugary foods before bedtime to ensure that you fall asleep quickly. Instead of watching television before bed, read a book instead.
Take Vacation Time – If you have vacation time, make sure to take it. Taking a week off to relax away from the pressures of work allows your mind and body to recharge. You don't have to go anywhere on your vacation. Spending a week at home can do the trick. But if you want to travel somewhere new, go ahead! Just make sure where you're going provides a stress-free environment where you can stay calm and relaxed.
Listen to Music – Music provides sensory stimulation that's good for your brain while helping your body produce healthy hormones including endorphins. Choose upbeat music that you can sing or dance along to. Listen to your favorite music for at least 15 minutes a day for best results. With so many different listening devices available, you can listen to music on your way to work, at work, or home.
Buy a Fidgeting Toy - Fidgeting can help you stay focused while helping reduce stress and anxiety. Sensory toys come in all shapes and sizes. From spinners to sensory strips, a stress relief toy provides a healthy way for you to manage stress.
Fidgeting toys also make the best sensory toys for autistic children. These autism toys provide a way for children to relax and focus.
You can purchase fidget toys cheap for use at home, at work, or when traveling. This stress relief toy also makes the best gift for those dealing with stress.
Spend Some Money on Yourself - Treat yourself every once in a while by buying something you've had your eye on. You don’t have to spend much, just make sure that what you buy for yourself has meaning. Many times, we think about the well-being of others without giving ourselves the same consideration. Put some money aside and take yourself out to dinner, or buy something small that you will cherish for a long time.
Surround Yourself with People You Like - Spending time with people you like helps make it easier to spend time with people you don't like. Reminding yourself that various types of people exist in the world allows you to quickly recover from bad social interactions. People you like should make you feel happy, grateful, and alive. When people treat you with respect and dignity, you will easily reciprocate.
Find a Therapist - If stress and anxiety seem to linger longer than usual, or you just can't shake these feelings, consider seeing a therapist. Medical professionals trained in helping people reduce stress and anxiety can help you determine the root causes of your stress. A therapist can also help you make changes in your life so you can stop stress from turning acute or chronic.
The Bottom Line
Good stress and bad stress exist. Too much of either type of stress can cause emotional and physical problems. If you experience either type of stress more than once or twice a week, you should actively try to find a way to reduce it by listening to music, investing in fidget toys cheap, or by taking a vacation.
About Fidget Strips
Fidget Strips provide an easy way to help you manage stress and anxiety. Simply attach the strip to your laptop, tablet, on the back of your cell phone or tablet, or any smooth surface. Gently run your fingers back and forth on the textured surface for a calming effect. You can choose a rough or satiny texture – or both!
Available in a variety of colors including solid black, these reusable sensory strips provide years of stress relief. As suitable sensory toys for autistic children, these strips help children maintain focus while helping to create a calm, relaxing environment.
All of our autism toys feature a one-year warranty and a 30-day return guarantee for your satisfaction.