Stress: even the mention of the word can put us on edge!  Actually, stress is a normal part of everyone’s life.  It is simply our body’s way of dealing with challenging situations.

Types of Stress

  1. Eustress - positive stress that helps to motivate us.
  2. Distress - negative stress that discourages and depresses us.

When we think about stress, we tend to think about negative situations that cause pain and anxiety.  But not all stress is “bad” stress.  Some types of stress are actually positive and motivating. This type of stress is called Eustress.  The stress that can result in depression, anxiety and negative feelings is referred to as Distress.

Interestingly, our bodies cannot physically tell the difference between the two types of stress.  It is all about how we perceive and react to the stressors that causes the different feelings.


This is the “good” stress—we all could use more of that!  It is sometimes referred to as “beneficial stress” or “adaptive stress.”  Eustress can help motivate and keep us going through difficult tasks.  It is often a short-term sensation that allows us to focus and feel more in control of the situation.

Eustress is not simply a better ‘type’ of stress, but rather a more adaptive perception of, and reaction to, a stressful situation.


Conversely, distress is a feeling that a situation is out of our hands.  It can create negative feelings, anxiety and depression, adding to the feeling of helplessness.  This is the “bad stress” that many people often think of when they hear the word “stress.” 

Distress can be short- or long-term and may lead to other potentially problematic behaviors such as excessive drinking, overeating, irritability, smoking and a whole host of other issues.


OK, that’s good to know but how do I turn stressful situations into eustress instead of distress?  Ah, that’s the key to managing stress!

Imagine a situation where you inherit a multi-million dollar estate.  From the outside, it would seem you just hit the jackpot.  All your needs can now be met, you won’t have to worry about money, and you don’t even have to work!  You’re already planning trips, finding your dream home, thinking about all the charities you can support.

Sounds like great eustress, right?!  Sure, as long as everything continues to go well.

But, life has been known to throw us the occasional curveball.  Your newfound wealth has attracted some unwanted attention.  People are begging you for money, friends suddenly appear out of nowhere to ask for favors, and you don’t know who to trust to help manage your money.  Suddenly the situation seems out of your control and starts causing anxiety and distress.

Each of these results can come from the same situation.  How you react to them determines how your body perceives the “stress.” 

Even though there may be some pressure or stress involved, planning how to manage your money feels like something you can control and can create “good stress,” or eustress.  (And the thought of spending it can't be too bad either!)

However, once other factors or stressors enter the scenario, it can start to feel overwhelming and that same euphoria can quickly turn to fear and anxiety and a feeling you aren’t in control, resulting in “bad stress,” or distress.


Managing stress is not always easy.  Try our online classes to learn more about how to deal with many different stressful situations:

Managing Stress

Dealing With Difficult People

How to Take a Chill Pill

Working with Humor

Workplace Burnout