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  • Writer's pictureAllie Saunders

Understanding Stress: The Good, The Bad, and The Coping Strategies

April marks Stress Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the role stress plays in our lives and how we can manage it effectively. Stress is often portrayed in a negative light, but it's essential to recognize that not all stress is bad. In fact, there are two types of stress: eustress and distress.

Eustress is the positive form of stress, characterized by feelings of excitement, motivation, and fulfillment. It's the kind of stress we experience when we're pursuing goals, taking on challenges, or engaging in activities we enjoy. Eustress can fuel productivity, enhance performance, and foster personal growth.

On the other hand, distress is a negative form of stress, marked by feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and pressure. It arises from situations that exceed our ability to cope effectively, leading to physical, emotional, and mental strain. Prolonged distress can have detrimental effects on our health and well-being, impacting both our personal and professional lives.

So how can we distinguish between eustress and distress, and how do we know if we're in a good spot? The key lies in self-awareness and mindfulness. Pay attention to how your body and mind respond to different situations. Notice if you feel energized and engaged (eustress) or depleted and overwhelmed (distress). Monitor your physical symptoms, emotions, and thought patterns.

Additionally, consider the following healthy coping strategies to manage stress effectively:

  1. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practice mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation to calm your mind and body.

  2. Physical Activity: Engage in regular exercise to release tension, boost your mood, and improve overall well-being.

  3. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintain a balanced diet, prioritize adequate sleep, and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption.

  4. Time Management and Prioritization: Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps, set realistic goals, and delegate responsibilities when necessary.

  5. Social Support: Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Sharing your feelings and experiences can provide validation, perspective, and comfort.

  6. Setting Boundaries: Learn to say no to unreasonable demands, prioritize your needs, and create a healthy work-life balance.

  7. Hobbies and Recreation: Dedicate time to activities you enjoy, whether it's reading, gardening, or practicing a hobby. Taking breaks and engaging in leisure pursuits can rejuvenate your spirit and perspective.

Remember, stress is a natural part of life, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed at times. The key is to recognize when stress becomes excessive and take proactive steps to manage it effectively. By understanding the difference between eustress and distress and adopting healthy coping strategies, you can navigate life's challenges with resilience and grace.

~Allie Saunders, Personal Trainer, Health Coach

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Our providers enjoy sharing articles on a wide variety of health and wellness topics.  The information in these articles is intended for general information only, and should not be used to diagnose, treat or cure any condition.  Seek the advice of your medical provider or other qualified healthcare professional for personalized care regarding your unique needs and goals.

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