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Good Stress vs. Bad Stress: Understanding the Difference and Managing Your Stress Levels

Two-thirds of UK Adults Experience Stress, but Did You Know There's Good Stress Too?

Darryl Horn, Monday, 17 April 2023 • 3 min read

Stress is an inevitable part of life that we all experience at one point or another. It can be caused by various factors, such as work, relationships, health, and financial issues. However, not all stress is the same; there are two types of stress: good stress and bad stress.

Bad stress, also known as distress, is the type of stress that is caused by negative events or situations, such as work deadlines, relationship problems, and financial worries. Prolonged exposure to distress can lead to chronic stress, which can have serious negative effects on our health, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. In fact, according to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation, over two-thirds (68%) of UK adults have experienced some form of mental health problem, with stress being the most commonly reported issue.

On the other hand, good stress, also known as eustress, is the type of stress that is caused by positive events or situations, such as starting a new job, getting married, or going on holiday. When we experience eustress, our body releases stress hormones in smaller amounts than with distress, which can help us to feel energised, focused, and motivated.

While it is important to manage distress when it occurs, it is also important to recognise the benefits of eustress and how to harness its positive effects. For example, eustress can help us to perform better in tasks that require attention and concentration. According to a study by the University of Bristol, experiencing some level of stress in childhood can actually be beneficial for long-term health and wellbeing, with children who experienced moderate levels of stress having better mental health and social outcomes than those who experienced high levels of stress or no stress at all.

So, how can we manage stress effectively? There are various strategies that we can use to manage both good and bad stress, such as:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can help to reduce stress levels and improve our mood.
  • Relaxation techniques: Practices such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help to calm our mind and reduce stress.
  • Seeking professional help: If stress is affecting your mental health or your ability to function, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional.
  • Setting boundaries: Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life can help to reduce stress levels and promote a healthy work-life balance.

Stress is a complex phenomenon that can have both positive and negative effects on our health and wellbeing. By understanding the difference between good stress and bad stress and taking steps to manage our stress levels effectively, we can improve our overall health and wellbeing. Let's work together to reduce the negative impact of stress on individuals and society as a whole.

#GoodStress #BadStress #StressManagement #MentalHealthAwareness
This article was first published on 17/4/23.

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About the author

Darryl

Darryl is a Chartered CIPD Member, business leader and operational manager with 30 years experience in on-the-ground and strategic HR, specialising in Human Resources Management, Employment Law, Employee Relations and Learning & Development.

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