What Is Positive Stress?

March 5, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Top points

  • Stress is a natural response that engages your nervous system so you can take action.
  • Positive stress is a useful tool that helps you to perform well in important situations.
  • Balancing both positive and negative stress with other experiences encourages better physical and mental wellness.

We spend a lot of time trying to avoid stress in our lives. But Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” What did he mean? He meant that there are times when stress and adverse situations can spur us to new heights. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as positive stress.

Stress is one of those double-edged swords in life. It can be both good and bad. And our mindset often shapes how stress affects us. With that in mind, let’s talk about what positive stress is and how it can help us in our daily lives so we can achieve the mental wellness we deserve.

What Is Stress?

The true definition of stress might not be what you think it is. Many people think stress and anxiety are pretty much the same things. Medically speaking, that’s just not true.

Stress is a natural response from your nervous and hormonal systems to a situation requiring you to take action. It’s a physical response set in motion by hormones that elevate your heart rate and increase your focus so you can perform the action required of you.

So stress is really a neutral force that can be used to benefit or harm you.

How Do Positive Stress and Negative Stress Differ?

There are big differences between positive stress and negative stress. Their effects on your brain and body vary significantly.

Positive Stress

Positive stress is also called eustress. The good kind of stress helps you to perform well in important situations. It challenges you to be the best version of yourself.

Positive stress is most commonly a momentary state of stress that ups your heart rate, improves your focus, and actually benefits you. A big boost of adrenaline can help you to succeed in tough situations. It boosts our creative and critical thinking. It helps us to learn new things on the fly. Positive stress is a powerful tool that can help you have a positive response to an obstacle.

Negative Stress

Negative stress, or distress, is on the other side of the aisle. The bad type of stress may inhibit our ability to succeed and get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish.

Most of the time, negative stress results from negative situations or too much stress building up around us, and it takes the form of prolonged stress. If too much stress builds up over the long term, it might begin to take a toll on your brain and body as it decreases performance.

These repetitive thought patterns of stress can lead to headaches, sweating, heavy breathing, stress eating, and sometimes cause anxiety or depression.

But negative stress isn’t a permanent condition. You can absolutely overcome your bad stress and find peace and mental wellness. It might take some time and work, but there is always a way forward.

Is Positive Stress Good for You?

Positive stress is a totally normal mental and bodily response. It can help you nail that presentation in front of colleagues even though you’re afraid of public speaking. It can help you interact well with strangers. And it can help you perform well in your sport.

Positive stress can be a tool for success. But it mustn’t become an obsession. Stress often takes on the qualities of your thought patterns. If you have a healthy, positive outlook on your situation, you will likely experience good stress.

But if you become obsessive or focus on the negative in a situation, that stress can turn into a hindrance.

What Are Some Examples of Positive Stress?

You probably experience more positive stress than you might think. Again, it’s a common, normal function of the body. Here are some common examples.

Getting a Promotion or Starting a New Job

A new work environment is a situation where you need to perform well. In a job restructuring, you know that you have high expectations, so your body releases adrenaline to help you perform your best.

Having a Baby

Having a baby is quite a difficult task! Once the baby is born, there is a lot to do, and that infant is relying on you to meet their needs.

But somehow, despite the huge amount of parenting work, new parents seem to find a way to get it all done. Their positive stress helps them get through the ups and downs and take care of their baby.

Getting Married

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. It’s a major event that will change the rest of your life for the better. So being stressed on your wedding day is normal and healthy. The body’s response can motivate you make sure everything goes according to plan and that the day is a success.

Buying a House or Apartment

There are so many ins and outs of buying a house, but having your own home is a great milestone to achieve. The adrenaline boost from eustress is a powerful tool that can help you spot the tiny details and work to get everything done that needs to be done on schedule.

How Should Positive Stress Be Managed?

Positive stress is a helpful tool, but it needs to be checked so that it doesn’t become a problem.

For starters, it’s important to let your loved ones in on your stressors, bad or good. Your family members or friends can help make sure your stress isn’t affecting other parts of your life negatively.

It also is important to go on vacation now and again. Even good stress can become a problem if it is prolonged. So make sure you take a break from time to time so you can relax and be at peace.

It’s also always helpful to have a counselor or therapist to go to. They can check up on your stress and help you stay mentally healthy by improving your coping abilities.

How Long Does Positive Stress Last?

Again, positive stress is typically only a short-term situation. When it’s healthy stress, cortisol, the stress hormone, fades away once the stressful situation has passed. But high, sustained cortisol levels can harm your health.

So if you find yourself constantly stressing about future events or particular situations, it might be time to exercise some self-care to ease your symptoms of stress.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, stress can be either a positive or negative thing. If you can healthily cope with stress and maintain a positive outlook, you can use everyday stress to your benefit.

So don’t try to live a life absent of all stress. Learn to play the long game with your mental health. Recognize that your body needs time to recover from positive stress as well as negative stress, and develop routines to give it the rest and variety of experiences it needs.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life is committed to whole-person care and evidence-based treatment. If you find yourself experiencing more negative stress than positive stress, ketamine therapy may help. We offer at-home ketamine therapy that is virtually supervised so that you can have your treatment in the comfort of your own home. Take the edge off of your stress with Nue Life.


Famous Quotes on Stress and Well-Being | George Mason University

Good Stress & Bad Stress | Know the Difference | The City of St. Louis

Good vs. Bad Stress | Centerstone

Stress, A positive life force | Michigan Department of Corrections

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