Stress: What Are The Benefits?

When we think of stress, we typically don’t think of it being positive.  If I asked you what stresses you out the most, you’d likely pick what brings you the most negative stress, or distress.  You may name money as your top stressor, or work, or raising a family.  However, what if I told you - not all stress is negative?  That’s right; not all stress is negative stress! Positive stress, or eustress, is beneficial to us.  Eustress helps provide us with focus by pressuring us (lightly, not overwhelmingly!) to move on with a goal.  It motivates us by encouraging us to stay on track.  It centers us as we feel the urge to try our best in a new situation.  The important thing about eustress - it isn’t outside of our coping abilities.  As soon as stress moves outside of our ability to handle it, it becomes distress. If you’re still wary about the existence of eustress, check out these three scenarios below where you may be experiencing positive stress instead of negative. Eustress in a New Relationship In a new relationship, we experience eustress as pressure to show off our best side, if you will.  For example, you may feel pressure (or light stress) to look your best on a first date, arrive ten minutes early, and be extra-conscientious of your partner’s conversation.  As you grow more comfortable in a relationship, this eustress may wear off - if you’re five minutes late for dinner 10 years into marriage, it’s probably because you don’t feel that added pressure of trying to impress like you did on the first date.  Eustress helps us in a new relationship to go above and beyond to try our best. Eustress While Doing a Project Whether you’re doing a project for school or for work, eustress is the focusing energy that says “hey, we should get this done on time!”.  Eustress helps us stay on track when typing a paper instead of watching cat videos on the internet (we’ve all been there).  It guides us to prioritize and strategize to turn in something by a deadline.  It’s important to distinguish the gentle pressure that helps us finish by the due date with distress, which makes us feel like we’re having a meltdown while scrambling to do something.   Eustress and Taking a Vacation Positive stress is even present when we do something to de-stress! When we take a vacation, eustress is the thing that helps us get there. Eustress helps us pack before we leave, buy a plane ticket, or even pick our vacation destination.  It’s the motivating force that says “if we’re going on vacation, we’ve got to do a little planning.”  Think about it: if you felt no pressure to go on vacation, you’d never plan an itinerary, put clothes in a bag, or get in the car.  Thanks, eustress! We hope this blog post changes your mind a little about stress! Not all stress is bad.  However, when stress goes beyond your coping abilities, it’s time to talk to someone about it.  If you’re feeling that positive pressure to talk to a therapist, now is the perfect time.  Reach out to us at to talk about what’s distressing you today.  We look forward to hearing from you!