Bad Stress vs. Good Stress

May 17, 2017 | Healthy Living

We all get stressed. And whether its work, looming exams or money problems, stress has a reputation for being a bad thing. But believe it or not, stress can be good for you – under the right circumstances.

Stress affects everyone in different ways. But there are two major types: stress that’s beneficial and motivating, and stress that causes anxiety and health problems. So how can you tell the difference?

What is good stress?

In general, good stress, also called eustress, can propel you forward and help you achieve your short-term goals. It’s the sort of stress you feel in the lead up to an exam, deadline or marathon. In these situations, you tend to have control over the outcome and the stress can motivate you.

How does good stress work?

Taking the marathon example. Faced with that final mile between you and the finish line, your body’s fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in, delivering a temporary energy boost. The anxiety about potential failure heightens your concentration and jolts your body into an alert state, giving you the push you need to finish the race.

Dealing with bad stress

Chronic stress on the other hand can slow you down and inhibit you from doing the things you need to do. This type of stress is detrimental because you never get a chance to recover from the effects of fight-or-flight. You’re constantly in a threatened state which means your immune, reproductive and digestive systems are unable to return to normal. The net result of this is that all those things we associate with stress, such as lack of focus, irritability, memory loss, depression and weight gain become a real risk.

How to recognise bad stress

It may not be immediately obvious whether you’re experiencing good or bad stress, but your body has ways of letting you know when it’s bad. Watch out for the following warning signs:

• Inability to concentrate or complete tasks
• Getting sick more often with colds 
• Body aches
• Headaches
• Irritability 
• Trouble falling sleeping or staying awake
• Changes in appetite

So, what can you do to stop bad stress overwhelming you

In an ideal world, you’d eliminate the stressors that don’t help you and be done with them. But if you tried to do that, you’d probably end up with no job, house, friends or family!

However, there are ways to manage your stress and cope with it more effectively. Here are some top tips:

1. Accept what you can’t control to and change what you can
Don’t obsess over the things your stress can’t change, such as rush hour traffic. Mental anguish won’t make traffic move any faster. Instead, turn on some calming music and make phone calls to let people know you are unexpectedly caught in traffic and are running late. 

2. Meditate daily
Meditation is fantastic for stress maintenance as you can do it any time. It’s most useful when done first thing in the morning because it helps set a calm tone for the day. When you meditate regularly, stressful situations will roll off your back. And if something does get to you, the effects won’t last long. 

3. Take a break
Removing yourself from a situation once you realise it’s stressing you out can keep it from escalating into something you’ll find difficult to manage. Even if you just go for a quick walk around the block before returning to whatever it was you were doing, you’ll be able to calm yourself, gain perspective, and return refreshed.

4.Have regular massages
Many symptoms of stress can be relieved through massage. Research has shown that it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and increase the production of endorphins – your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemical. Serotonin and dopamine are also released through massage, the result being a feeling of calm relaxation that makes chronic or habitual, as well as acute or short-term stress much easier to overcome.

Book yours today

If you’re feeling the wrong type of stress, why not book one of our relaxing massages at Castle Thai Spa? Call us on 0131 629 0794 to discuss your options.