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Is stress good or bad?

The answer really is it depends

2 min read

Much like how the accelerator on a car if pushed too hard can spin the car out of control, too much stress can make it feel like your life, is spinning out of control. 


Chronic stress isn't good for your health and well-being because when you are in fight or flight mode, the immune system is shut off. 


But there's a catch... stress isn't all bad. You actually need stress in order to function well, to rise to challenges and get things done. And, there's another catch, stress can actually be healthy.


So what's the difference? 


The difference is how you perceive stress. If you see a stressful situations as challenges to rise to and embrace, then this triggers a pretty healthy stress response. Some people call it eustress, or good stress. 


To see a situation as a challenge and not a threat, it helps to take a growth mindset. This is because if you see the situation as an opportunity to learn or gain something from, rather than a threat, then you feel you have everything to gain and nothing to loose. You aren't defined by the outcomes. 


When you do this, you rise to the challenge and then, once it's done, wind back down and recover. 


A fixed mindset gets in the way of both rising to the challenge, and winding back down afterwards because you feel the situation is defining you, so will want to avoid it.


If you ask Olympic athletes how they feel before a race, many will say that they feel excited, not stressed or anxious. This excitement comes from seeing the race as a challenge and opportunity to embrace, rather than a threat to avoid. 


What is a situation that is causing you stress, and how can you think of this as an opportunity instead?

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