how stress can be good for your health
Health & Wellness Healthy Living

How Stress Can Actually be Good for Your Health

(Last Updated On: October 19, 2019)

I know what you’re thinking. How in the world can stress be good for my health?!?

Most of the time when we think of being stressed, our minds conjure up events (real or imagined) where we were upset, angry, frustrated, emotionally drained, sad, hopeless…and more. Basically, we were not in a good place, and who wants that?

Well, there are actually two types of stress:  

  • Distress, which refers to negative stress, such as a divorce or a breakup
  • Eustress, which refers to positive stress , like starting a new job. That’s our definition of good stress.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, so let’s talk about the types of stress that we encounter in our lives, examples of healthy stress, and how we can effectively deal with both.

Stress occurs when someone feels an imbalance between a challenge and the resources they have to deal with it

Kathleen Gunthert, a professor of psychology at American University

Can Stress be Good for You? Eustress

Can stress be good for you? Yes! See good stress examples

When we’re in the midst of a stressful situation we’re probably not going to consciously think, “this is great, bring it on!”. But even so, a moderate amount of normal stressors in our lives can help us in these surprising ways:

First, moderate stress strengthens the connection between neurons in your brain, helping you become more productive. This may explain why many people work better when under stress.

Second, low doses of the stress hormone helps protect from infections. Moderate stress stimulates the production of a chemical called interleukins and gives the immune system a quick boost to protect against illnesses.

And third, dealing with stress can actually make you tougher, stronger, more resilient as you experience those times in your life.

Think back to a difficult situation in your life and how you handled it. If you had a similar experience later on, you probably were able to deal with it a bit differently, perhaps felt more in control of the situation because it was not entirely new to you.

A 2012 study concluded that participants who believed their stress was negatively impacting their health had associated poor health, psychological concerns, and even risk of premature death.

Those participants who believed their stress was positive did not show these same risks, despite their level of stress. Interesting, isn’t it?

Ever thought about making stress your friend? Listen to this podcast:

How to Deal with Distress? De-Stress!

How to deal with stress and remain healthy

While it is comforting to an extent to know that the ‘normal’ stresses of life can be good for us, we also know that the other ‘distresses’ are inevitable. So much so that we devote an entire month to stress awareness.

So what can we do to cope, de-stress and avoid the health issues like mood, sleep and appetite problems, and worse yet, heart disease?

Here are five suggestions, and none are going to be a surprise to you, I’m sure.

But let’s look at them with a spirit of reflection instead of glossing over them with a “yep, already know that one”, and take a moment or two, to consider what we can do now…today…to incorporate these positive actions into our life:

TAKE THE EDGE OFF:

Simple things like listening to music, spending a little time with your favorite hobby, relaxing in a warm bath, enjoying a cup of coffee and a good read…all of these actions help us to diffuse and de-stress.

EXERCISE:

This is what I do to lower my stress almost every day. The act of exercising releases endorphins, mood-boosting chemicals, and that is just one benefit of physical activity. Regular exercise also helps to keep our heart healthy, can lower blood pressure and help to lose weight.

TURN OFF THE ELECTRONICS:

Give yourself the gift of an electronic break for 10 to 15 minutes per day, and include the cell phones, too. It is really okay to leave them off (or out of sight) for a short time…or maybe longer. It will all be there waiting for you. 🙂

PRAY/MEDITATE:

Spending a few minutes of quiet time can do a world of good for letting go of the stresses of daily life. For me it is prayer. For you it could be yoga, meditation, deep breathing or other inward-focused thought. You will feel the difference in your entire body as you release the stress.

STAY POSITIVE:

Smiling and laughter can actually lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries and increase the ‘good’ LDL cholesterol. So go ahead…smile, laugh, hold your head high and remain positive. It’s good for your stress, and for your health!

Source: Stress Management, Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Stress is always going to be a part of our life, there is no getting around that.

If we can find the positive in the ‘good stress’ and learn from that, then find healthy ways to release the more difficult stress that life throws our way, we can find the balance to living a healthy and productive life.


Candi Randolph Midlife Blogger


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How stress can actually be good for your health


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23 COMMENTS

  • Lisa

    Excellent information! I have always felt that I was better organized when under a little pressure. Thanks for your helpful tips about dealing with negative stress. I appreciate the information!

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      I agree with you Lisa. When the pressure’s on I put my head down and get it done, and it feels good. 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    Brilliant post. I’d never heard of Eustress but I know I’ve experienced it. Such good information. Thank you for sharing.

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Elizabeth! It was a new term for me as well. I’ve experienced it but didn’t know there was a name for this kind of stress.

  • Holly Bird

    Wonder post! We all could use some of these tips to make our stress levels go down, and enjoy our lives!

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Yes, we sure can! Thanks for stopping by, Holly. 🙂

  • Sarah

    Very interesting. I never thought that stress could be good in any way. Now I can look at stress in a whole new light.

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Hi Sarah…yes, who knew? But after doing the research for this post I can see where certain types of stress are actually positive things.

  • Hi Candi, most of us associate stress with anxiety and something that we need to avoid. However, I agree that there is good stress and you have detailed this very well in your post. Stress can be good but we need to be able to control the bad stress and you have provided some helpful strategies to do this. My Inspirational Flow Days are the days I rest and recover and they certainly help my mental health as well as my physical health.

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Hi Sue, I love the idea of Inspirational Flow Days…even the name is relaxing 🙂 Hope all is going well with your home sale and move. That can definitely bring on the stress!

      • Hi Candi, we move next week but feeling on top of things. I will be glad to move I think! Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and I will be sharing on my social media.

        • Candi Randolph
          AUTHOR

          Thanks so much, Sue, hope the move goes quickly and smoothly! xo

  • Lisa

    Wow! I had not heard of eustress either! Interesting and I 100% believe that a little stress is motivational! Love when the stress of having overnight guests forces me to clean the house! LOL
    Deadlines cause stress but I tend to get it all done when that date is looming!! Great info Candi!

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thanks, Lisa, I do the same!

  • Pradeep

    Hi Candi –
    Came to your blog via the #MLSTL.
    I have heard that a reasonable amount of stress can be good. But never knew there was a word for it. Thanks for introducing me to it.
    Very useful tips you have to destress oneself from distress.
    Loved reading this.
    – Pradeep

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thank you so much, Pradeep, please stop in again!

  • Denyse Whelan

    Yes I knew of the two types of stress and have watched the Kelly McGonigal talk. I do try to make less of the stress I feel which in the past few years has been related to both transitions in my life AND a cancer diagnosis. However, I am able to moderate my internal reactions better thanks to meditation and some hypnosis.

    Denyse #mlstl

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      You have certainly had some stressful life events, Denyse, and it sounds like you’ve found productive and effective ways to deal with them. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  • It’s funny, I have a post on stress scheduled for next Monday – great minds must think alike! I hadn’t really considered stress from a positive viewpoint, but you’re right, a little stress does toughen us up and bring out new qualities – it’s prolonged pointless stress that is the killer!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thanks so much, Leanne, and I’ll look forward to reading your post!

  • Debbie

    This is all interesting and useful information Candi, and I hadn’t thought of stress being good for us until you mentioned it! Shared on Pinterest for #mlstl

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Hi Debbie, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing on SM, much appreciated. 🙂

  • Rena

    I had no idea that there was a such thing as good stress. I’ve come along way this year dealing with the stress in my life. Things are so much happier these days.

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