Eustress Vs Distress: 6 Easy Tips To Tackle Stress

Eustress vs. distress has become a burning topic of discussion. Stress has (especially negative) become a permanent tenant in our lives. Each one of us has experienced it at some point in time. It can give you sleepless nights, make your heart pound, or lead to burnout.

When we have experienced emotional distress (negative stress) or physical breakdown, it is hard to accept that stress can be good, too. Have you ever considered stress as “motivating”? Ever thought it makes you productive at work?

bad stress.
image source: frustrated/pixabay/distress; negative stress can cause mental and physical problems both.

The subcategory of stress does much good to you beyond your expectations. This positive subcategory is called “Eustress,” which differs from “Distress.” At this point, your mind must be steering it. 

To learn how to manage stress, click here.

How Stress Sways Between eustress and distress

“Stress” is how your body and mind react to a stimulus. Seldom do these stimulant charges change. That makes you stressed over it. Hans Selye, an endocrinologist, coined the term “Stress” in 1936. It is a non-standardized response of one’s body. Stress is physical and psychological strain due to a perceived threat or change that you strongly resist.

distress or negative stress
image source : jeshoots -com / pexels/eustress is feeling pressure during exams, but remaining tensed for studies is distress, or negative stress.

Stimulants could be external (out of our dominance) and internal (to some extent in our dominance). External stimulants include environmental and climatic factors like heat, rain, and unwanted noise. It also comprises unfortunate experiences or phases of life.

Our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are internal drivers of stress. One’s insecurities and expectations can lead to anxiety or distress, sometimes an increase in blood pressure and other bodily disturbances. Opinions and attitudes decide the occurrence of eustress and distress.

It is relevant to know how distress is different from stress. Stress means feeling emotional, physical, or psychological strain for a short period. Instead, negative stress occurs when stress becomes more persistent, severe, and extensive over a long period. Negative stress has lasting effects on health.

Stress is feeling pressure during exams, but remaining tensed for studies is negative stress.

After defining stress, Hans Selye 1976 went on to describe its variants. Apart from categorizing stress into positive stress and negative stress or eustress and distress. The other two variants are “hyper stress,” or excess stress, and “hypostasis,” or under stress.

To increase eustress or Positive stress, one has to learn stress management; striking a balance between hyperstress and hypostress is essential. Some amount of stress is stimulating. 

Eustress or positive stress is a subcategory of stress. It has positive corporal, mental, and emotional influences. It acts as motivation that helps in achieving goals and targets. It is “go-getter” stress that makes you more prominent at your job. It motivates you to respond confidently to the various challenges posed by stimulants. 

Positive stress inspires you to see changes as a challenge rather than a setback. You can say it guides your reactions to the situation. Positive stress is associated with emotions similar to feeling contended, hopeful, stimulated, excited by the stimulus, and reacting positively.

Many a time, stressors of distress vs. eustress are viewed differently. Here, one thing to note is stimulants or stressors 1are identical. The difference lies in perception. 

If the gap between expectations and reality is immense, it will cause stress.

The farther you feel your target is, the more stress it will build. On the contrary, it becomes motivating for your mental health if your target is not out of your grasp.

Some Instances Of Eustress

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Roman Samborskyi on Shutterstock
  • When you first enter that door, you feel a lot of nervousness. You feel what will happen, how things will go and all. This nervousness and stress is positive stress because you are also excited for your first day. The onset of your first job can be stressful, but it inspires you to work better.
  • Starting a new phase of life like marriage, going to high school, or college. Remember when you first time went to your college? Seeing all those new faces, that kind of sweet anxiety of what will happen next, where my class will be, how my class will be, who will be my first friend and everything. Or remember the day when you are about to say “I do” and about to kiss your bride. That time you were nervous, but also you were happy. 
  • Performing at a college fest could be tiring, but still, you work hard to make your performance exceptional. It’s the performance that matters; it’s the preparation and the time for it that you give matters. It hits you when the fest is long gone. During the preparation time, the stress is about what happened, and that excitement with stress is eustress. 
  • We all have done that, watching an entire season of any series by staying up all night. The time when your head, your eyes, and your body are stressed out. But you are still watching it because it feels good. Watching movies back to back is quite tiring, yet it excites you.
  • One of the best things you can do with your life is travel. Travelling the world gives you the best feeling because you are in a whole new place. Sometimes, it can be tiring because of transportation and commuting. But the end results are worse than stress. And that stress is eustress. Travelling can make your body drain its energies besides you enjoy your trips.
  • Learning a new skill or a new hobby like cooking or dancing. When you are learning a new hobby, you fear messing it up, but also you are learning, so it increases your knowledge. In the end, even if you mess it up, you will feel good because you have learned something new. 
  • Having a promotion and extended working hours drops you and motivates you to work harder.

Is Living A Stress-Free Life Healthy?

It is considered healthy to live a stress-free life. But it could be surprising for you to know that little stress is beneficial for your cognition.

little stress good for cognition
image source : ElisaRiva / pixabay

survey conducted by the American Psychological Association focused on the mixed effects of stressors-free life. It states that people who experience less or no stress live better, which harms their cognitive functioning. Stress is not all that bad. It helps to improve knowledge and makes you more productive. Also improves your mental health2

Stress at an endurable level works for better cognitive functioning.

Can Stress Be Transformed to Eustress?

It is essential to transform negative stress into eustress like talking to a family member can change stress into eustress. As mentioned earlier, stressors do not change; only our perception differs.

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fizkes on Shutterstock

So, to dissolve the eustress Versus distress concept and adopt eustress at your workplace, you can try the following relaxation techniques to turn stress into eustress:

Fix realistic and attainable goals:

the first thing to do is to fix targets under your reach. Setting something out of your control could lead to stress when you are setting ambitious goals. It leads to stress as it’s almost impossible to achieve, and still, you work without a break for it, and it will only lead to stress. Something like you can complete only one chapter in a day, and you have decided to complete 2 chapters in a day, so now, to complete 2 chapters in a day, you don’t complete the first one correctly because your stress becomes a wall between your concentration and the chapter. The same goes for working professionals.

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Dilok Klaisataporn on Shutterstock

A writer takes a job to write 5000 words per day, and it is too much that he ends up completing only 3000 words with low quality because of stress. learning realistic goal setting has long-term stress and productivity benefits. 

Break the wall of the comfort zone:

You must learn to move out of your comfort zone to avoid frequent physical and psychological breakdowns. Take up challenging tasks to learn, pursue a new hobby, how to work under pressure. Some people work better under pressure. For them, under pressure, stress is eustress because that stress helps them to work more efficiently.

When you are in your comfort zone, anything that is out of your comfort zone gives you stress; even if it’s not stressful, it’s simple. It gives stress to that person who stays in his comfort zone. So when you break the wall of your comfort zone and start doing different things, it hurts in starting, but in some time, that stress becomes eustress because of the newness and excitement. 

Learn something new every day:

Learning new things improves cognition performance. It makes you sharper and helps in releasing the tension build-up. Learning something every day can help you find your life purpose or can help you find your passion, as there are many things in the world about which you know nothing. So when you learn, you gain knowledge every day, discovering new things that can be your passion.

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True Touch Lifestyle on Shutterstock

Learning is a great way to reduce stress or, in other words, to change stress into eustress because when you learn something new, it releases a feel-good hormone and gives you a feeling of growth, which helps decrease stress. And the same as learning helps in gaining confidence because now you know something you didn’t know earlier. Learning also helps keep you healthy because learning keeps your mind and body active. 

Change your perception:

The difference lies in mindset. One can achieve goals with an optimistic perspective, which can help him in the long term. When you are working on something, and you are halfway. You have only 1 hour of time remaining. Now, if you keep saying that you are just halfway and it’s only 1 hour left, you will not complete it.

There are extreme chances that it might be true, and you will not complete it. Because of your negative mindset, your stress increases, and as it increases, it disturbs your concentration and your thinking, which eventually leads to more time-wasting. And if you think you are halfway and still have 1 hour of time, you will quickly complete it. This positivity will lead to a decrease in your stress and an increase in your confidence and concentration. And this way, your stress 3turns into eustress. 

Exercise can help you:

Exercise is challenging for beginners. And challenges develop eustress as long as the person keeps a positive mindset. Exercise increases your overall health level, which leads to overall growth in your mindset. So it increases your confidence in reduces your stress.

Exercising or any physical activity also has some direct stress-killing ways; It increases the release of endorphins, creating a general sense of well-being and eventually decreasing stress. Release stress build-up and improve endurance to take up challenges. When you exercise, your body uses all the body’s energy so that your mind does not have energy for your stress. So that way also it decreases the stress.  

Spend time with a family member:

Social psychology says having a healthy social and personal life can help you de-stress yourself. Spending time with your family or a family member is one of the best stress busters. Here, family member means anyone who is close to you. It can be your loved ones or a friend. Basically, close interpersonal relationships.

When you talk with a family member and share a laugh, your mind feels safe and relieved. A family member is the one with whom we can talk freely and share our stress, and he helps us relieve it. When you have good interpersonal relationships with people, spending time with that person makes you feel happy, decreasing stress. Having positive interpersonal relationships is a must because if the relationship is negative, it can cause an increase in stress. 


The difference between eustress (positive stress) and distress (negative stress) has highlighted the assertive traits of eustress. It also established how eustress could be motivating and helpful, whereas negative stress can leave you drained out. The one prime thing to note is your perspective can change the whole game around you. Having a positive mindset can give you better ideas that increase productivity.

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  1. Orr, James A., et al. “Towards a unified study of multiple stressors: divisions and common goals across research disciplines.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 287.1926 (2020): 20200421. ↩︎
  2. Moreno, Carmen, et al. “How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The lancet psychiatry 7.9 (2020): 813-824. ↩︎
  3. O’Connor, Daryl B., Julian F. Thayer, and Kavita Vedhara. “Stress and health: A review of psychobiological processes.” Annual review of psychology 72 (2021): 663-688. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Suchi



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