Good Stress vs Bad Stress

What is stress?

Stress is something that we all face in our lives, it is our body’s response to a situation which requires action. “Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain.” Learn more about what stress is here.

Stress can affect each individual differently; it can evolve into various physical symptoms and it can be dealt with in many ways. The human body, when put in a position of pressure, threat or danger, releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, amongst others. This stress response is more commonly known as the fight or flight response. It is our body’s natural survival instinct and at the same time it allows us to experience the great things in life.

Are there different types of stress?

In short, yes. There are several forms that stress can take on, some of these are portrayed as ‘good’, they can help us out in high-pressure situations, whereas others are ‘bad’ and can cause long term health issues.

Let’s break it down, when we talk about ‘good’ stress, it is referring to situations such as:

  • Getting a promotion at work
  • Moving to a new house
  • Having a baby
  • Getting married

These are just some examples of situations that may create stressful moments, but the underlying note is one of joy, happiness and excitement. They can be high pressure which stimulates the body’s natural stress response but once the event is over with the stress subsides.

“This type of stress is referred to as Eustress. There are many triggers for this type stress, which can keep us feeling alive and excited about life.” Read more about Eustress and how its short-term effect can help here.

On the contrary, examples of ‘bad’ stress include:

  • High pressure job
  • The requirement to meet deadlines at work
  • Having a high workload
  • Filing for divorce
  • The death of a loved one
  • Injury or illness
  • Being abused or neglected

‘Bad’ forms of stress leave you feeling helpless in a situation and unable to deal with the problem at hand. It creates tension and remains with you for long periods of time, it continues even in the absence of the original cause. ‘Bad’ stress can overspill into other walks of life and you may find that concentrating at work becomes challenge, your overall productivity reduces and completing the simplest of tasks is difficult.

This type of stress is known as Distress and can quite often become a chronic problem. It can cause many health risks and it is important to recognise the signs and symptoms your body displays when you are in this state of stress.

What to look out for:

The numerous types of stress can produce varying signs and symptoms including:

  • Changes in mood
  • Clammy or sweaty palms
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Digestive problems
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling anxious
  • Frequent sickness
  • Grinding teeth
  • Headaches
  • Low energy
  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Trembling

To see a full list see here.

These symptoms are generalised, you may find that you have other signs that you recognise and use to determine your stress levels. It is important to notice how your body reacts to stress, whether good or bad.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed or you have an employee, colleague or friend you are concerned about it is time to ask for help. There are many professionals out there who can offer support and guidance.

If you want any more information please get in touch or take a look at our ‘Mental Health First Aid’ page to see how we can help.