The difference between ‘good’ stress and ‘bad’ stress

Stress is a natural part of life. It’s a fundamental survival mechanism. And though it has certain connotations, it’s important to realise that not all stress is necessarily negative.
April 19, 2023

Stress is a natural part of life. It’s a fundamental survival mechanism. And though it has certain connotations, it’s important to realise that not all stress is necessarily negative.

There are two main types: eustress and distress. The former relates to those experiences that might make our heart race and our pulse quicken: think of how you might feel before a first date; on your wedding day; when you buy a new home; have a child; when watching a scary movie; or taking on an important new work project…

The latter though – distress – refers to more negative instances, like being overworked, relationship problems, financial difficulties, abuse, grief, etc.

The most common cause of this type of stress is work-related with eight in ten UK workers (79%) saying they frequently felt it and one in 14 UK adults (7%) reportedly feeling stressed every single day.

Highlighting the scale of this problem, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an estimated 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2021/22, equating to over half of all working days lost due to work-related ill health.

Bertrand Stern-Gillet, CEO of Health Assured, says “It’s important to understand the difference between positive and negative stress so that individuals are able to manage it effectively for a healthy lifestyle.

“We need good maintenance of stress to be able to live well. Stress allows us to push ourselves further, and it can play a part in our determination and willingness to get to where we want or need to be. With a manageable level of short-term stress, our cognitive function and performance are more likely to be improved.

“However, if it continues long-term it can fester, ultimately turning into negative stress. This leads to anxiety, confusion, poor concentration, and decreased performance. And while stress itself is not an illness, it can lead to the onset of other illnesses or ill health.

“Everyone can become stressed at different points in their lives, and there is no one universal way of reacting to it. But, if the pressures of your personal or professional life are taking their toll, you should act sooner rather than later.”

Here are Health Assured’s top tips to keep negative stress at bay this Stress Awareness Month and beyond:

  • Meditate: Research shows that meditation is an effective treatment for many psychological conditions and is especially effective for reducing stress. Meditation is a great way to take time out of your busy schedule and check in with yourself – helping you calm your mind and giving your body time to recover.
  • Regular exercise: Being active allows you to keep your mind focused on a task separate from your stressors. Exercise also releases cortisol – the hormone that enables our bodies to manage stressful emotions.
  • Take note of your feelings: Stressful times can feel frustrating and confusing. One thing that can help reduce stress is writing your feelings down. The physical act of putting pen to paper can help you identify what is causing the stress, so you can start to find techniques to prevent this. 
  • Stay connected: Friends and family play a vital role in protecting your mental health by fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. So, whenever you need to, call up your friends or message your family. They’ll appreciate it as much as you do.
  • Self-care: Self-care is the practice of tending to your body’s needs – especially during periods of stress. Self-care protects against mental and physical health problems. It can include engaging in hobbies, reading a book, listening to music, or grabbing coffee with friends. These small moments of enjoyment can help you avoid negative feelings and offer a break from any worries you face. 
  • Spend time in nature: The great outdoors raises vitamin D levels, reduces anxiety, and provides social interactions. Even a quick ten minutes outside can offer a mood boost.
  • Find a creative solution: Research shows that creative arts interventions reduce stress. These activities include art, music, dance, and drama. So, try squeezing in a spot of creativity where you can. It could be doodling for ten minutes, writing a short story, or listening to your favourite song. These small moments of creativity will help reduce your stress levels.
  • Eat healthily: A balanced diet is packed with vitamins and nutrients essential for the body to function. Eating a variety of nutritious foods can help the health of your organs, cells, and hormones. Additionally, cooking can be therapeutic – the constant focus can help divert attention away from stressors.
  • Seek support: Dealing with stress can be overwhelming. If you feel like the above methods are not working for you (and you feel ready to do so), you should consider talking to a mental health professional. Therapists can help you recognise where these feelings of stress come from – and help you implement strategies to get past them. Alternatively, many workplaces offer an employee assistance programme (EAP).

Original Article: HRnews

Need a guide to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Connect with Top Talent on Our Recruitment Services.
Contact our recruitment specialist
 Gareth Allison or give us a call on 02920 620702.

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