In one way or another, everybody can be affected by stress. Even the most free-spirited and optimistic individuals aren’t free of worries. Big or small, everyday problems can become overwhelming sometimes. As it turns out though, not everything that could potentially be stressful has to have a negative effect on us.
Generally speaking, stress is not a friend to us, and it may cause some rather unpleasant repercussions in terms of our well-being. It can be a major reason behind a number of illnesses and medical problems. Therefore, and quite rightly so, we tend to avoid stressful situations. After all, health is our most valuable asset and we should do whatever we can to protect it. On the other hand, stress can have a positive side when it acts as a burst of energy that forces us to take action. Having a fever is not exactly the desired state we want to find ourselves in, but it helps the organism fight infections; just like this physical example, a stress-triggered response is not a bad thing in general. This is especially true if we’re talking about a one-off occurrence rather than a prolonged condition. It is our body’s way of reacting to some kind of threat, so the defense mechanisms can be activated. A single episode of stress can boost brainpower, help us make a quick decision, increase creativity, motivation and even short-term immunity.
The science also distinguishes the term ‘eustress’ in order to name the beneficial side of stress. It literally means ‘the good stress’ and was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye. It is being used to describe all the sensations we feel when we are nervous but also excited. There are changes in our hormone system, a quickening of the pulse, adrenaline spikes and so on, without the accompanying fear that we are in real danger. The most common examples of such stimulation that come to mind happen when riding a roller-coaster, going on a date or getting to know somebody we really like, giving it our absolute best at sports or fitness activity, learning new things, and discovering new cultures while traveling. Most of us can easily recall a situation or activity that made us feel a similar way, as we all know best what works for us.
Good old-fashioned rivalry can be an important factor as well, whether we are talking about physical activity and sports, or something more intellectual. You don’t necessarily have to enter world championships or challenge the smartest people on the planet. Playing video games with your friends, pulling out the old board games, or participating in a trivia night where you get to show off your knowledge on interesting subjects should do the trick. An interesting example is modern professional poker playing, especially considering it often involves promises of great monetary rewards. The experience is better when you confront talented oppositions, especially at the thrilling live events and tournaments where you will really have to break a sweat. The proverbial butterflies can come in many forms. Particularly when we are presented with the unknown, try something new to us, or face a change. It is good to feel such excitement in life from time to time.
In the long run, too much of anything is probably not the greatest idea. Being constantly exposed to a variety of stress-causing factors or a continuously stressful environment most definitely isn’t. In small doses, the feeling of being stressed out can be beneficial. Especially, if it is the good kind of stress.