When you feel overwhelmed and up against the wall, do you notice the old familiar headache or backache that you get in response to a stressful situation? Before you let it upset you, take time to think about what type of stress you’re feeling.
There are two types of stress that psychologists call Eustress and Di-Stress. These are as different as two sides of the same coin. One is actually useful while the other is harmful to your body.
Eustress is an anxious feeling that’s more akin to anticipation than dread. You may experience eustress before giving a presentation at work, before going on a job interview or when preparing a gourmet meal from a recipe you’ve never tried before.
In eustress, you’re dealing with uncertainty – but the outcome isn’t fatal. Eustress is the proper name for a man’s shaking hands as he produces the engagement ring and the bride’s pre-wedding jitters as she prepares to walk down the aisle.
Both of these are “good” stress in that they represent taking a step into the unknown toward a positive outcome. Di-Stress, on the other hand, is anxiety, fear, frustration and an overcoming sense of dread.
Job burnout is the result of working too long in a stressful environment. Continual exposure to stressful situations and people whose demands become stressful to you results in negative stress.
There’s nothing useful about excessive and chronic stress. It’s the warm-up act for a heart attack, stroke and emotional breakdown. If you say “work better under stress,” you haven’t asked your immune system how it feels.
Living under stressful conditions for long periods of time is damaging to your immune system. Ever noticed how you’re more inclined to catch the office cold when you’re overworked than when you aren’t?
That’s a perfect example of how your immune system can’t deal with your stress load and have enough left over to fight a bug. Stop and analyze your stress in a mood journal by writing down specific answers to these questions:
- What causes you to feel stress?
- Where are you when you feel the most stress?
- Who is with you?
- What are you doing?
- Has anything changed recently in this situation?
By seeing your stress patterns, you can look at ways to change either your involvement with stress or your response to it. Is what you’re feeling really harmful stress or just eustress?
If it’s actually eustress, then you can change what you say from, “I’m so stressed out over preparing the party” to, “I’m so excited about this party!” It’s amazing how your body responds differently to each type of stress. And getting the right attitude will make all the difference.