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What is Eustress?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Eustress is a term that is sometimes used to refer to what many call good stress. Rather than being the root cause for discomfort or emotional distress, it motivates people to continue moving forward and enjoy actions and events that require some effort but ultimately provide a great deal of satisfaction. The term appears to have originated with Hans Selye, an endocrinologist who wrote about the impact of stress on the mind and body.

Just as there are many stressful situations that can lead to the development of depression, anxiety, and apathy, there are also types of eustress that promote general emotional and physical well being. Physical exercise is an excellent example of this kind of good stress. The action of engaging in planned physical activity such as walking, running, or working out in a gym does place some degree of stress on the body. However, that stress ultimately allows the muscles to develop and the heart and lungs to strengthen. At the same time, the stress of exercise causes the release of endorphins that help to elevate mood and protect individuals from depression.

There are other examples of eustress that many people encounter throughout their lives. All of them ultimately provide some degree of happiness and well being. Graduating from high school or college, the birth of children, and securing a highly desirable job are all events that come with some amount of stress, but ultimately provide a positive emotions that help people to find meaning and value in life.

It is important to note that eustress does not refer to satisfaction that is achieved without effort. Students must study and successfully complete coursework in order to earn a degree. Going through a pregnancy for nine months requires dealing with a wide range of physical and emotional issues before a mother knows the joy of cradling her child in her arms. Getting into top physical condition requires a commitment to regular exercise that challenges the limits of the body and mind if the individual is ever to experience the joy of a well-built body.

The effects of eustress are many, and range from short-term to long-term benefits. In the short-term, eustress provides motivation to keep moving forward with an activity or project, even though it may be taxing. In the long-term, good stress helps to promote emotional balance, confidence, a sense of being wanted and needed, and a general feeling of being in harmony with the rest of the world. All these positive benefits help to minimize the chances of a number of physical and mental ailments developing.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By DylanB — On Feb 23, 2013

@OeKc05 – Dating is definitely stressful, and it isn't all good stress. That's why I have chosen to focus entirely on my college career right now and save the dating for later.

I am the kind of person who doesn't handle stress too well, so I don't need more than one kind of stress in my life if I can help it. I have a tremendous amount of eustress with all my classes and focusing on acing them all, and that is all I can take right now.

I know that when I finish and get my degree, all of the hours spent in the library and writing papers will have been worth it. I will have arrived at my destination, and I can put that eustress behind me.

By seag47 — On Feb 23, 2013

I think you can have eustress and distress at the same time. Eustress involves a long process of working toward a goal, and along the way, we sometimes meet with bad occurrences that we cannot control or change.

The key is to move beyond the distress and realize that the eustress is still present. Realizing this can help you continue through the pain toward your goal.

By OeKc05 — On Feb 22, 2013

I have had to endure eustress while dating. Every time I started seeing someone new, I suffered through insecurities, worrying over my looks, and wondering what the guy was going to think about issues that were important to me.

There was also the stress of wondering if he was going to call again and where this was all going to lead. When the dating process led to a happy relationship, it was worth the eustress. When it didn't, I felt more like it was regular stress.

All that eustress finally ended in marriage for me. I am so relieved to know that I don't have to go through it ever again. There is something so relaxing and secure about settling down with one person.

By Perdido — On Feb 21, 2013

I've had both stress and eustress in my life, and I have to say that I will take eustress over stress any day. Both are burdensome, but eustress rewards you in the end. No one can continue under plain old stress for very long without becoming depressed or suffering with poor health, because it has no end in sight and offers no relief.

By anon259692 — On Apr 07, 2012

Yes, there is such a thing as good stress.

By SnowyWinter — On Dec 18, 2010

Eustress is necessary and beneficial for a balanced life. It makes us feel alive and vital. It is very important to control your bad stress. When you experience stress, physiological changes start to take place in your body that can actually be good for you. However, you have to be able to also calm yourself back down relatively quickly. Breathing exercises and meditation are very beneficial to achieve this.

By alex94 — On Dec 17, 2010

@cmsmith10: When you think about it, the opposite of good stress is distress. We definitely do not need distress.

There are many advantages to good stress. Good stress allows you to take control of a situation and gives you good feelings such as control, confidence, eagerness, and excitement. Good stress helps you to achieve your goals and helps you to perform better.

Some examples of things that cause good stress are: goals, amusement park rides, horror movies, adventures, having a baby, getting married, buying a house, participating in sports, and anything that excites you in a good way.

By cmsmith10 — On Dec 16, 2010

I didn't know there was any such thing as "good stress". Very interesting article.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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