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Life’s Stress Spectrum: Confrontation of Good vs Bad Stress

May 30, 2024 | 0 comments

DISCLAIMER:

The information provided here is not intended to be a substitute for professional health and mental health care or consultation. Individuals who believe they may require or benefit from treatment should seek the advice of a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional.

Very Good Counseling is a private practice of licensed mental health therapists who specialize in EMDR.  We provide online mental health services to individuals throughout the State of Florida,  and in-person at our office in Fort Myers, FL. For more information, contact us.

by: <a href="https://vg-counseling.com/robert-g-engle-fort-myers/" target="_blank">Robert Engle, EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist</a>

by: Robert Engle, EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist

Because We Believe You Matter

Robert joined the practice full time in 2022 to help neurodivergent individuals with ADHD, anxiety, and depression find freedom and enjoy life through counseling. He is currently working towards becoming a Certified ADHD Professional (ADHD-CCSP). Trained in EMDR therapy, he excels at understanding the intricacies of ADHD and Trauma.

Life, much like the sea, is full of waves—some gentle and inviting, others turbulent and challenging. Stress, in its many forms, is akin to these waves. 

Yet, not all stress is created equal. In the vast ocean of experiences, we encounter both good stress and bad stress, each leaving its mark on the shores of our lives. Let’s embark on a journey to understand the tides of stress, distinguish between the good and the bad, and learn how to ride the waves with grace.

Riding the Waves: Good Stress as the Surfer’s Delight

Picture yourself as a fearless surfer, riding the crest of a wave. This exhilarating dance with the sea is a metaphor for good stress. Good stress, also known as eustress, is the kind that invigorates us, propelling us forward with a burst of energy and excitement. 

Good stress feels like the anticipation before a big presentation, the thrill of a new job, or the butterflies before a first date. Like a skilled surfer harnessing the power of the wave, good stress propels us to reach new heights, embrace challenges, and experience life to the fullest.

And good stress is not reserved for major life events; it’s present in the everyday swells that shape our routines. It’s the motivational push that helps you meet a deadline, the excitement of taking on a new project, or the challenge of learning a new skill. Good stress keeps life dynamic, injecting a sense of purpose and achievement into our daily pursuits.

Maneuvering in Choppy Waters: The Challenge of Bad Stress

Imagine a stormy sea, the waves crashing tumultuously against the rocks. This tumultuous scenario mirrors bad stress, also known as distress. Bad stress overwhelms and erodes our well-being, leaving us feeling battered and fatigued. 

Bad stress is the pressure that weighs heavily on our shoulders, the relentless demands that seem insurmountable, and the emotional turbulence that threatens to capsize us. While both good stress and bad stress can be uncomfortable, bad stress typically persists over time, negatively impacting our health, relationships, and overall quality of life.

Bad stress often reveals itself through a series of warning signs—persistent feelings of anxiety, changes in sleep patterns, irritability, and physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches. Understanding the difference between good stress vs bad stress and recognizing the signals of bad stress is crucial for preventing it from escalating into chronic distress.

Good Stress vs Bad Stress: Striking the Balance

Balancing good stress and mitigating bad stress is an art—a delicate dance that requires the steps of mindfulness and self-awareness. Like a seasoned sailor navigating the seas, we can learn to harness the winds of good stress while navigating the stormy waters of bad stress with resilience and grace.

Yes, both good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress) can elicit similar physiological responses in the body, such as increased heart rate, heightened alertness, and the release of stress hormones. However, the crucial distinction lies in the perception and impact on well-being. 

Eustress vs Distress: How Stress is Categorized

Perception plays a fundamental role in determining whether stress is perceived as good or bad. Here are some ways in which perception can influence the categorization of an individual’s stress:

1. Where It Happens:

 If a tough situation is related to something we want to achieve, like a work goal, it might feel like a good challenge. But if it feels like too much or could harm our job, it might feel like bad stress.

2. Being Different:

Everyone handles stress differently based on past experiences and how well they can handle it. What one person sees as a problem to deal with, another might see as a big issue.

3. What We Think Will Happen:

What we think will happen because of the stress matters. If we believe we’ll grow or succeed from it, it might feel good. But if we think it’ll lead to something bad, it’s more likely to feel bad.

4. Control and Knowing What’s Coming:

If we feel like we can control or predict the stress, it might not feel as bad. Having some say in the situation can make it easier to handle. But if we feel stuck or can’t predict what’s happening, it’s more likely to feel bad.

5. How We Think About It:

Our thoughts and feelings about a situation play a big role. Seeing challenges as chances to learn and get better can make stress feel okay. But if we see it as a big problem or think negatively about it, it’s more likely to feel bad.

6. Culture and What’s Normal:

What people believe about stress can be different based on where they’re from or what society thinks. Some cultures see certain stress as just part of life, while others might see the same stress as a big problem.

7. When It Happens:

Stress that lasts for a short time and has an end can feel okay, like a small challenge. But if stress keeps going for a long time, it’s more likely to feel bad.

In short, how we see things affects whether stress feels okay or not. It’s a personal thing influenced by how we handle things, what we believe will happen, and what society says about stress. Understanding this helps us deal better with the challenges that come our way.

Building a Resilient Ship: Strategies for Managing Stress:

There’s little difference in good stress vs bad stress when it comes to the need for management strategies, as stress management strategies are beneficial for both. Even though positive stress is tied to exciting opportunities or challenges, it triggers similar physical and mental responses as negative stress. 

The purpose of stress management is not to eliminate positive stress but to handle it effectively.

Positive stress, such as the anticipation of a challenging project, can still lead to burnout if not managed properly. 

Stress management techniques act as tools to maintain balance, prevent exhaustion, and optimize performance. They are essential for navigating life’s dynamic situations—both positive and challenging—with resilience.

In essence, stress management is about fostering a healthy relationship with stress. Whether it’s the thrill of a new opportunity or dealing with life’s difficulties, effective stress management ensures we can handle the ups and downs with grace and enthusiasm.

Good Stress vs Bad Stress: Strategies that Play Well with Both

1. Take a Breather:

Whether it’s the thrill of good stress or the pressure of bad stress, a moment to catch your breath works wonders. Deep breaths, my friend, can be a game-changer. They help reset your mind and keep you cool, no matter what kind of stress is knocking on your door.

2. Break It Down:

Big challenges often come with stress in tow. Break them into smaller, manageable bits. It’s like eating a pizza slice by slice instead of trying to down the whole thing at once. Tackling one piece at a time makes the stress more digestible.

3. Positive Vibes Only:

Surround yourself with positivity. Whether it’s good stress pushing you to new heights or bad stress testing your limits, a positive mindset goes a long way. Focus on what you can learn or gain from the experience.

4. Share the Load:

Don’t be shy to share your stress with a friend or a colleague. Talking it out can be therapeutic, and you might get some great advice. Remember, you’re not in this alone, and two heads are better than one, especially when stress comes knocking.

Life’s a mix of good and bad stress, and managing both is key to enjoying the ride. Stress, after all, is part of the journey. So, take a breather, break it down, keep it positive, and share the load. With these friendly strategies, you’ll be riding the stress wave like a pro—no matter what kind of stress comes your way!

Seeing a Therapist for Good Stress? You Bet!

Yes, you heard it right. It’s not just about tackling bad stress; therapists can be your co-pilots in managing good stress too. Why? Because even positive changes and exciting opportunities can stir up a mix of emotions that might need a bit of unpacking. 

Believe it or not, therapists can be invaluable guides not just in handling bad stress but also in fine-tuning the good stress that comes with positive life changes. Positive experiences, such as landing a dream job or planning a major life shift, can stir up a mix of emotions that might benefit from professional unpacking. 

Therapists step in not just to fix what’s broken but to help optimize what’s already working. So, why seek therapeutic support for good stress? 

1. Navigating Transitions:

Positive life changes, like a new job, a move, or a big milestone, can bring about stress, even if it’s the good kind. A therapist can help you navigate these transitions, providing support and strategies to manage the whirlwind of emotions that come with exciting changes.

2. Enhancing Performance:

Thriving under the pressure of a promotion or taking on a new challenge? A therapist can assist in optimizing your performance by offering tools to harness the positive energy of good stress, ensuring you stay on top of your game.

3. Cultivating Resilience:

Building resilience isn’t just for handling tough times; it’s also about strengthening your ability to adapt and thrive during positive shifts. Therapists can guide you in developing coping mechanisms that contribute to your overall resilience, making you more equipped to handle life’s twists and turns.

Good Stress vs Bad Stress: EMDR for Both

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a versatile therapeutic approach that proves helpful for both good and bad stress. Originally designed to address trauma, EMDR has evolved to assist in processing various stressors.

1. Good Stress and EMDR:

Even positive experiences can trigger stress responses that EMDR can help process. Whether it’s the excitement of a major life event or the pressure of a positive challenge, EMDR assists in managing the emotional load, ensuring you can fully embrace and enjoy the positive aspects without feeling overwhelmed.

2. Bad Stress and EMDR:

For distress, EMDR is like a superhero cape. It helps individuals reprocess distressing memories and emotions, offering relief and a path to resilience. It’s not about erasing the challenges but about changing how they impact your well-being, allowing you to navigate bad stress with greater ease.

The Takeaway: Sailing Through Life’s Stressful Seas

In the grand tapestry of life, understanding the distinction between good stress and bad stress is pivotal, becoming a compass for a more resilient and fulfilling journey. Like expert sailors, we can learn to ride the waves of good stress, enjoying the thrill and momentum it provides. Simultaneously, we must navigate the stormy waters of bad stress with resilience and strategic navigation. 

By cultivating mindfulness, prioritizing self-care, setting realistic expectations, and seeking support, we can sail through life’s stressful seas, whether we think of them as risky or in our favor. The key is to find our own balance, one that allows us to thrive amid the waves. 

Therapists guide us through these transitions, providing tools to manage the whirlwind of emotions that accompany exciting changes. From optimizing performance under the pressure of good stress to cultivating resilience for both positive and challenging shifts, therapists play a crucial role in enhancing our well-being.

Good stress, the energizing force propelling us toward new heights, stands in contrast to bad stress, the overwhelming pressure that can leave us feeling drained. As we sail through life’s seas, armed with the insights of managing both good and bad stress, and fortified by the therapeutic support of professionals and tools like EMDR, we gain a profound sense of resilience. 

Life’s waves may be unpredictable, but our ability to ride them with strength and grace becomes an empowering constant. So, set sail with confidence, knowing that the journey is not just about weathering storms but also about embracing the exhilarating moments of positive stress and finding calm seas amidst life’s challenges.

So, set sail, fellow sailors, and embrace the journey with open arms. As the wise old sea captains say, “It’s not about avoiding the storms, but learning how to dance in the rain.”

Start your healing journey with us. 

Not to brag, but we’re Very Good.

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