Don't Stress - Just Eustress!

November 18, 2010
I had to deliver a lecture to a group of officials, who were due to retire shortly, on "Coping With Stress".  (and hey! I came out with a wonderful and funny conclusion about family life, which i will share in my forthcoming posts!!)

But meanwhile, I got to share something very interesting and positive about stress, this word which we use so much now.

Stress - When you hear this word, what comes to your mind? Tiredness, fatigue, burnout, but actually if we did not have some stress, we  would not be doing anything.  By the way, its very interesting to know that Stress means a normal physical response to events that make us feel threatened or upset our balance in some way.  When we sense some danger - whether its real or its imagined (for some getting stuck in traffic is stress), our body's defenses kick into high gear. And that process of rapid automatic gearing up is known as "Fight-or-Flight" reaction. 

Our primitive instincts still work for us! Interestingly, the cave men, when encountered a danger, would either fight it off or run for their life, the same reaction is generated in our minds to this date.  A challenging situation puts us in this frame of mind.

In fact, its Eustress, the optimal amount of stress (differs from person to person) required to keep us focused, motivated and moving.  Sometimes, we wait for the deadline of a work and start working a few hours or a few days prior to it, and often during that working period, our attention span is longer and we can focus better and the aim is to do the job well.  That is eustress working in favour of ourselves. And I am not saying that we should delay our work and wait for the last moments to finish it!!

Anyways, we take stress as something bad, but the fact is that if this stressful situation goes on for a long time (again depends on the person how much can he take), this stress becomes Distress and affects both our mind and our body in a negative way.  Distress causes anxiety, decreases performance level,  and can lead to mental and physical problems.
So next time, you feel stressed (as a general term), ask yourself, is it Stress, Eustress or Distress ?

If the stress is too less, we rust out and don't perform, if its more, we burnout and cannot perform.  Its this optimal stress, just the right amount for you, which makes you perform.  Think about it and know what is the optimal stress for you.  Find the situation which blocks your mind and work upon it.  Find the situations which makes you more productive to use them in a purposeful way.

Let me share, I was to make a presentation, which I could not finish well before the lecture, and then on the last day, I sat for four hours, with absolute concentration and I could feel eustress working for me positively and constructively!!

So cheers to Eustress - use your stress !

Next time, don't be stressed, be eustressed!!



Jack said...


Read 2 posts now. On previous one, I agree with you mostly. As a male I know that I did not need to make small talk with my other male counter- parts, senior or junior or same level, but come straight to point and be done with what is at hand. But it was little difficult with ladies due to their starting small talk moment we met, I had to use all my patience to come to the point. However workwise I found ladies to be more conscientious. On this one, it is true that we all need little amount of stress to work at our peak performance.

Take care

PS : Posted new one today.

Anonymous said...

tough times dont last.. tough people do... so said an intellectual. i agree, at times, stress motivates us to perform better.

Reema said...

v interesting concept!!

Harish P I said...

Really informative.

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Jack - Thanks for sharing ur views. :)

Neo - well said, thanks.

Reema - :)

Harish - thanks!


Vee said...

love the way you analyze things and give it a form through words. wish i could express like you :) this happens with me all the time. which is why i guess, i used to study only when exams were approaching or used to start looking into homeworks and projects when deadlines approach.

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