Usually when we use the word ‘stress’ we’re referring to so-called ‘bad’ stress or DIStress. But did you know there is a name for good stress? Eustress, pronounced YOU-stress, is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye who studied the impact of stress on the mind and body. Eu comes from the Greek meaning well or good and suggests that there is indeed such a thing as healthy stress.
So, What Is Eustress and Why is it Important?
Well, without eustress we are not equipped to deal with excitement and/or challenge in our lives.
It’s eustress that fuels our successes and achievements. Your clients may be experiencing eustress if they feel eager, excited, thrilled, proud, resilient, determined, fulfilled or in a state of flow. Distressing and tough circumstances can also lead us to experience healthy eustress – as we learn to cope and develop greater strength, determination and courage.
1) In the short term eustress provides us with an energy boost to perform challenging activities – especially where we need to focus and put in extra effort eg. playing competitive sport or public speaking/delivering a seminar.
2) In the longer term, eustress helps us keep working at things – especially when the going gets tough eg. learning and growing as get on with our lives after a rejection or keeping on studying when we’d really rather give up!
In short, stress can be good! Eustress helps us achieve things of meaning and value to us, leading us to feel better about ourselves – and grow in confidence and stature.
So, Here Are 9 Real-Life Examples of GOOD or Eustress Your Clients May Need MORE of:
- GETTING TO KNOW SOMEONE we really like – a new friend, colleague or romantic interest.
- STUDYING for a new qualification over a period of time - sustaining us as we work towards something bigger that will move us forwards in life like a new qualification.
- LEARNING and ADAPTING to new routines and cultures when TRAVELLING. When we travel, we must get out of our routines and comfort zones – and adapt to different foods, timezones, customs, language/s, scenery and more.
- NETWORKING and CONNECTING with others to grow ourselves and our businesses. Meeting lots of new people at once and showing ourselves and what we do to a larger world.
- PERFORMING at our best when we play COMPETITIVE SPORTS or a fitness activity. Eustress helps us perform better in the moment AND also to improve ourselves by staying committed to our exercise routine even when we may not feel like it.
- PREPARING for and working towards BIG GOALS or EVENTS like getting married, having a baby, getting a new job or promotion.
- DEVELOPING NEW SKILLS especially where we have to practice to improve and work through the awkward beginner’s stage eg. learning a new hobby, language or sport.
- GETTING OVER A REJECTION – whether it’s a job, relationship or some other opportunity, eustress sustains us and helps us learn, grow as individuals – and find the silver lining.
- STAYING THE COURSE with personal development - even when it gets tough. This is especially relevant for coaching and therapy. It’s eustress that will help our clients keep working on themselves and turning up for coaching sessions even when the going gets tough…
So, any time we are out of our comfort zones, but working towards something bigger or feel excited or challenged in a good way, eustress is at work. Without eustress our lives would be pretty dull – and hard work!
It really is all in the mind. Whether something is considered eustress or distress depends on 1) our reaction to the stimulus AND 2) how in control of a situation we feel. For example networking could be considered eustress for some people (who consider it fun or a challenge) and for others it may feel DIStressing. Or we may feel eustress if we asked for a promotion and start a new, more challenging role. But we may feel DIStress if we are told we MUST perform a role which we don’t feel equipped to do well.
Final thought: How could you reframe your client’s DIStress into more positive and helpful EUstress?
“When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles can happen.” Arland Gilbert
If you liked this article about eustress, you may also like:
- Our Free Resource: mini-poster of “The Effects of Stress and the Warning Signs”
- 12 Awesome New Ways To Use The Wheel of Life in Your Coaching Practice including a Wheel of Frustration or Stress!
- Having a “Pity Party” – When it’s a Good Idea!
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