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Good Stress vs. Bad Stress: What's the Difference?

by Jaganathan Vasudevan on August 12, 2020  in Health

Good Stress vs. Bad Stress: What's the Difference?

Stress is an unfortunate fact of our modern lives. From stress at work to stress over finals, holidays, money, and relationships, there's no escaping life's many insistent pressures.

It can feel like we have no way to fight back against stress. Science says that the average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, but that's easier said than done. Same goes for exercising and eating right. Some people try to take supplements like Ashwagandha for natural stress relief, but that means remembering an herbal supplement every day. Who has the time?

But there is good news. First of all, taking natural stress relief products, such as Ashwagandha extract and other herbal remedies, is possible. Second, not all stress is actually bad. That's right: There is good stress in your life, as well as bad. Let's take a look at some of the good stress that may actually be helping you and the difference between good and bad stress.

Good Stress vs. Bad Stress

There is a word for bad stress among psychologists: distress. Distress is jittery. It can wear you out. It's even tied to things like mood, poor concentration, and confusion.

Good stress, on the other hand, is called eustress. This is characterized by stress that can help motivate or inspire you. This type of stress can actually help push you to get things done. Another term for this is "challenge by choice." If you decide on your own to go headfirst into a challenge, it may still be stressful, but in a positive way.

The Pitfalls of Bad Stress

As noted, bad stress can have a serious impact on our lives, mental states, and overall health. It's important to look out for bad stress and do whatever possible to combat it.

Bad stress can show itself in a number of ways from digestive discomfort and occasional heartburn to decreased sexual desire or disrupted or uncomfortable menstrual cycles.

Clearly, stress can be a big culprit in a lot of health problems. Many people try to combat this with exercise, healthy eating, and herbal supplements, such as Ashwagandha capsules. Ashwagandha helps some people manage their stress levels in their daily lives.

What Does Good Stress Look Like?

Because good stress can actually help us function and achieve, it is worth knowing exactly what it is. What does good stress look like? How might you recognize good stress versus bad stress? It comes down to four factors: attitude, control, rewards and time.

Attitude matters a lot. When you think about a task or situation that makes you feel stressed, do you feel like you "have to" do that task, or like you "want to?" Things we want to do can still be stressful, but in the good eustress way that helps motivate and enrich us.

Control is another huge factor. When we feel in control, even negative stress is more manageable. Situations entirely out of our control can feel overwhelming, sending us into a spiral of negative stress. Finding ways we feel in control and calm can turn bad stress to good.

Then there are rewards. A stressor with a big reward is going to change that stress from bad to good. Planning a wedding, for example, is quite stressful. But the eventual big reward (marrying the person you love with friends and family all around you) changes that negative stress into a positive.

And as always, we have to factor in time. Is this stress permanent or temporary? Stress that is temporary can be harnessed for good. Stress that seems or is permanent can quickly overwhelm and turn into bad stress.

More than anything, being aware of your body's reactions can help you assess what kind of stress you are dealing with, whether it’s good or bad and how you should address it. For more tips, information, and products that can help you better manage stress, rely on Himalaya today.

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