Is stress good or bad?

Is stress good or bad?

Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people have as a result of challenging life circumstances. Stress is common and everyone will experience some degree of stress within their lifetime, however everyone experiences that stress differently. Research tells us that when we are stressed, our body’s release hormones- adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones aim to help us deal with the stress, however, can create physical changes in the body, such as increasing our heart rate, that we can interpret as harmful or dangerous.

Stress is an interesting phenomenon, we experience stress in our body as a reaction to a situation, it is our body’s way of saying “hey, something’s not right and we might need to deal with this”. And so, the question becomes, is stress inherently good or bad?

Below is my favourite model of stress, this model helps us to understand that stress can be both good and bad.

So what is this telling us?

  1. If we never experience stress, we will not have the motivation for action. For example, if you have a task to do for work, or an assignment to complete for school, and you don’t stress, there is no deadline, no reason for completing it…. Why would you ever do it! You wouldn’t, No stress, means becoming a couch potato with no motivation.
  2. If we experience too much stress, for example that work report is due, you boss is on your back about another project, the kids are in a state at home, your car’s broken down and to top it off someone used the last of the milk and didn’t say anything. This is the point where our cup is too full, we hit anxiety, panic, anger and eventually burnout and break-down. There is too much stress for us to realistically manage.
  3. There is a point of optimum stress. At this point we have drive and motivation, we are getting jobs done and achieving our goals, we are managing our workload effectively. This is peak!

And so we learn the truth of stress. It is possible to have too much stress and too little stress, stress is neither good nor bad, it is about how we think about the stress and manage it.

I will leave you with this. Everyone experiences stress and everyone has resources to cope with their stress. It is when stress becomes overwhelming and we start to hit the fatigue and burnout, the point at which our demands and stressors outweigh our resources that we need to seek help.

If you feel that you are heading past the peak of stress, into that stage of burnout, you may need to seek some extra support. Support means extra resources and extra resources means more coping. If you would like some extra resources and support, to help you flourish and thrive when faced with stress, please contact us at Prosper Health Collective so that we can provide you the extra resources you may need to get through this time of burnout.

Rachael Beckley