Although we associate the word stress with negative connotations , scientifically speaking, stress is neither good nor bad.
Stress is defined as the physiological reaction of the body when it has to face a threatening situation or more demanding than usual . This reaction consists of a response of the sympathetic nervous system of fight or flight : either one faces the threat or one looks for an escape route to get away from it.
That nervous response is therefore neither good nor bad. What happens is that our body can not live constantly in a state of stress. After a while, the body returns to normal physiological conditions, a process known as homeostasis.
It is when we are subjected to stress conditions constantly or too often for too long when stress becomes a mental health problem. But in fact, stress can also be a positive emotion.
The two faces of stress
Although the normal thing is to speak simply of stress, to dry, in fact there are two different types of emotions related to stress, one positive and the other negative.
Eustress, or positive stress
This natural adaptation process is called eustress , which consists in an acute activation of the senses and reflexes during a short period of time in order to face an exceptional situation of threat or of another type that requires more effort.
In this case, the demanding situation produces positive sensations, of impatienceif what we expect is something good, of reinforcement of self-esteem when facing a situation that supposes an unaccustomed demand, of self – realization , etc.
Distress, or negative stress
Instead, distress is called the one that exceeds the potential for homeostasis or balance and causes fatigue, irritability, anxiety or anger .
Negative stress maintained for a long time may end up causing physical problemsdue to increased energy expenditure, such as weight loss or gain , weakening of the defenses , hypertension and headaches among others.
Difference in symptoms
Between distress (or what we usually call stress, without more) and positive stress, there are several differences. One of them is how we experience it.
In the case of stress , it is often accompanied by fatigue, irritability, anger, insecurity … in addition to a habitual feeling of blockage that makes it difficult to make decisions and the development of tasks that only makes the stress situation worse.
For its part, the eustress is emotionally a different experience that brings satisfaction, vitality, energy, optimism and increased self-esteem . These sensations can mean an improvement in the quality of life.
How to manage stress to turn it into an eustress
In some cases, the stress that some people endure reaches such dimensions that it becomes a health problem and they need professional help . If you are or think you may be in that situation, it is best to go to your doctor.
But if your situation has not reached that point and you think you can try to turn it over to stress to make it a positive sensation, here are some tips to get it.
1. Control negative thoughts
Sometimes we become our worst enemy worsening the situations that suppose a high level of demand with negative thoughts that lead us to worsen stress and anxiety . This is not easy to avoid, but neither is it impossible. For example, instead of reviewing everything that can go wrong in one of these situations, think about all the things that are already done or that you know how to do well.
2. Trust yourself and your decisions
It is good to ask opinion and advice from people whose criteria we trust, but they should never replace our own opinion and instinct . Many times we know more than we want to believe, it only takes a bit of self-confidence.
3. Do not magnify the problems
Most of our concerns are not as big as we usually see them. Try not to get entangled in a tangle of unnecessary worry .
4. Physical activity and relaxation
Often when we are in a time of hard work, exams or family commitments, we stop doing sports because we are too stressed, we do not have time, we have a lot of trouble … And that is a mistake.
Physical activity , specifically disciplines that help relaxation such as yoga or pilates, are a good way to turn that stress into eustress , face commitments in another way and incorporate positive feelings into your day to day.
5. Find times for things that you like
Just like sports, there are other things that we stop doing in times of great stress, such as seeing our friends or family or spending time with our hobbies . That turns all our day to day into a monothematic session of work or study, and eliminates the good things that our life has. Although we can not devote as much time as we would like, it is advisable not to eliminate those activities from our lives absolutely to avoid stress burying us.