Types Of Stress And Why Stress Isn’t Always “Bad” For Your Health”

Created by Elly McGuinness

Last Updated: August 23, 2020

CATEGORIES: Holistic Health

Stress is almost always seen as the bad guy.  For sure is one of the most important risk factors for the majority of modern world diseases.  However, it’s important to recognize that there are different types of stress and that it’s not always bad for our health.  Let’s take a look at the types of stress your body might be placed under.  Then we will determine whether they could be problematic for your health.

Types of stress

There are two main types of stress

  1. Eustress
  2. Distress

Stress doesn’t always have a negative impact on your body.  If you didn’t have any of it you wouldn’t have much drive or focus to get things done.  An optimal, small amount of stress is called eustress, which can be considered a ‘good’ type of stress.  It helps you to focus on tasks, think clearly and react quickly.  Eustress is something that you perceive to be within your coping abilities and it feels exciting.

Distress on the other hand will cause you to feel anxious and does not feel positive.  It’s the type of stress that feels like it’s outside your coping ability.  It will result in a decrease in performance and can be considered as the ‘bad’ type of stress.

Short term and long term types of stress

Short periods of distress should not have a major impact on your overall picture of health. However, the problem in our modern, fast-paced world is that many people are in a constant state of distress. 

This is well above the level of eustress, and when it happens on a long term basis it becomes very problematic.  This long term stress is typically mental stress but it can also have very serious physical repercussions.

These can manifest themselves in a number of ways including disease acceleration, chronic pain, and storage of body fat.  There is a strong link between chronic high-stress levels and poor gut health. This is largely as a result of falling into a vicious cycle of inflammation within the body.

What is important is that you are able to come out of a ‘stressful moment’, and return your body to a state of equilibrium.  There it can carry out ‘rest and digest’ functions.  It will be unable to effectively perform these if it is constantly ‘switched on’. 

There are many ways to manage stress, but an important first step is gaining an awareness of your body’s own stress patterns.  You can read these tips on how to keep stress in check.  They’re specifically related to the busy time of the year that is Christmas. However, they can also be applied to normal day to day life.

These calming techniques for stress relief can also be very helpful.

You should also understand the relationship between exercise and stress so that you can make the best choices to allow your exercise session to act as a form of stress relief.

You can change your response to situations

Stress is what is called a modifiable risk factor, which essentially means it’s something you can change.  One person may perceive a situation as stressful, but another may not.  The person who does will experience a raft of hormone surges and the person who does not will remain in a relative state of equilibrium.

You can change your outlook on a situation and this will help alter how your body reacts to it.  There are certain situations that warrant a stress reaction and others that don’t.  Again, stress is perceived.  You have a choice as to whether you are going to sweat the small stuff or save it for the big things.

It’s not necessarily easy to just decide to change your reaction to a situation.  A simple technique that you can learn, which will help you to control the way you react is called diaphragmatic breathing.  This is also known as ‘belly breathing’.  You can learn about diaphragmatic breathing benefits and how to do it, for both immediate stress relief as well as long term benefits.

Be honest about which of the two main types of stress you are experiencing.  If you are in a constant state of mental distress, you might want to consider something like a Vipassana meditation course to help break your habits and achieve better overall mental wellbeing. If you’re an office worker, then make sure you’ve read these tips for workplace wellness. For more articles about holistic health and fitness, try this blog category.

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Elly McGuinness


  1. Ania

    Perception is reality for sure! Thanks for sharing!



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