Stress gets a bad rap, and while it usually deserves it, there is also a thing such as good stress. While bad stress can have a negative, sometimes fatal impact on our health, good stress is that little extra oomph that propels us forward. Let’s break it down.
Good Stress vs. Bad Stress
Let go of your preconceived idea of stress for a moment. Now imagine having a task to complete. Maybe it’s one that you don’t necessarily want to do, but it’s one that needs to be completed for work or maybe at home for your family. The stress that we feel to get the task done is usually good stress.
It’s that accountability and pressure that we all need in order to succeed. Without it, not much would get done and then we’d be faced with the bad stress of worrying about bills and how we’re going to pay the mortgage.
But that little bit of pressure, that nudge to accomplish something – even when you don’t want to – is good stress. It makes us better at our job, better in our role as parent and spouse, and better individuals. They help us develop a good work ethic that will serve us well into the future.
Sometimes happy events or tasks can even be stressful. Have you ever planned a wedding, moved, bought a house, had a baby, changed careers…? Those things are super stressful. But that stress teaches us that effort produces outcomes and that outcome can change our lives.
In terms of exercise, the stress of lifting weights can help build out muscles and improve our overall health. While it may not seem like a big deal to start off with 3 or 5 pound weights, they are the building blocks to be able to lift heavier. Slow, steady progress can lead to long-term gains, while lifting too heavy or too fast can cause bad stress on our body and lead to injury.
Good stress propels us forward toward goals and accomplishments. That’s the key.
Bad stress, oh you are my nemesis. Bad stress is when we take on too much in our lives, too fast. A little stress from daily living is natural and healthy, but chronic stress, day after day, can take its toll on our bodies. Instead of the occasional headache, back pain, or sleep problems, bad stress leaves us susceptible to an increased frequency of colds and illness.
Sometimes extreme situations can also lead to an increase in bad stress. Don’t think that loss, grief, trauma, and change can’t wreak havoc on your body too!
Bad stress weakens us both mentally and physically and that’s how it differs from the good stress that makes us better.
How to Deal with Stress
Knowing the difference between good stress and bad stress and being able to recognize them in your life is the first step to dealing with stress. Recognize what’s going on and identify it in your life. Being self-aware can propel you toward extra self-care that can make managing stress so much easier.
Getting more sleep and moving your body also help to improve stress levels. Even a quick 15 minute nap or a 10 minute walk around the block can release the stress that piles on.
The thing about stress is that you can’t ignore it. You can’t just pretend that it will go away – because it won’t. The more you take on, the more intense the stress will be and that’s going to lead to health problems that will cause even more stress. See the cycle?
Take care of yourself. Take a deep breath. Rub on some oils to support your mental and physical well-being. And, if the stress is so bad, talk with someone or consult with your doctor.
You can get through it.
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