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Here in this post, we are discussing “What is the difference between Eustress and Distress?”. You can read more about psychology-related material on our website. Keep visiting Psychology Roots.
Distinct from distress is the more positive eustress. The prevailing idea is that eustress presents difficulties but is ultimately beneficial since it encourages personal development. Distress, on the other hand, is more challenging and may even seem overwhelming at times.
Some scientists have expressed disagreement with the distinction between eustress and distress. According to one research published in 2020, such designations indicate that there are “good” and “bad” types of stress. Many variables determine whether stress is beneficial or harmful to an individual.
One person may find a trying situation to be ultimately rewarding while another finds it extremely upsetting. According to research conducted in 2021, this is mostly dependent on the individual’s access to enough resources.
What are eustress and distress?
Different kinds of stress are distinguished by names like “eustress” and “distress.” Distress, on one extreme of the range, refers to unpleasant emotions and trying situations. The opposite of distress is eustress, a state of mental stimulation brought on by a difficult but worthwhile task.
When people are confident in their capacity to handle a challenging circumstance, they may experience eustress. For instance, individuals may be anxious before an exam yet feel confident in their ability to perform well since they have done extensive preparation. It’s possible that they’ll feel proud or accomplished afterward.
Distress, on the other hand, may arise when a person experiences feelings of helplessness or isolation. Anxiety and fear might set in, for instance, if a person hasn’t prepared for an upcoming test by studying.
Distress, though, is not always a bad thing. Feelings of discomfort may prompt some individuals to take action that ultimately improves the situation. Stress may also affect them differently at different times.
Using this scenario as an example, someone who did poorly on a previous test may devise a study strategy to ensure they do better on the next one. Another possibility is that they worry about doing well on the test but end up surprising themselves by performing even better than they expected. When this occurs, they may experience a transition from distress to eustress.
Even in a positive setting, stress is possible. For instance, a person could experience emotional pain while ending a relationship, even when doing so is in their best interests.
The following are some situations that may cause eustress:
- exercise that matches a person’s ability and fitness level
- travel that is stressful but ultimately rewarding
- work that is challenging but fulfilling
- major life changes that a person desires, such as moving house or getting married
Some examples of experiences that may trigger distress include:
- controlling or manipulative behavior
- a relationship ending against a person’s wishes
- the death of a loved one
Signs of eustress vs. distress
Both eustress and distress may manifest in a number of ways.
|Duration||often short-term, with a clear solution or a way out of the situation||can be short-term or long-term|
|Difficulty||more likely to feel challenging but manageable||more likely to feel unmanageable or overwhelming|
|Emotions||may include frustration or worry, but also fulfillment or happiness||more likely to include anxiety, panic, or hopelessness|
|Self-efficacy||usually occurs in situations where a person feels confident, or self-efficacy is high||often occurs in situations where a person’s perceived self-efficacy is low|
|Physical well-being||less likely to affect physical health, although occasional eustress may actually improve it||more likely to affect physical health, especially if the distress is chronic|
The causes of eustress and the causes of distress
There is no “correct” way to react to stress; everyone experiences it differently. It’s possible to react differently to adversity depending on a number of things.
Some psychologists believe that a person’s access to resources is a major determinant. The items listed below are examples of the kind of physical resources that might be used:
Resources aren’t limited to the material kind.
- Social Support
Those who have more resources on hand are expected to do better in the face of adversity, according to the conservation of resources (COR) idea. This was tested in 2021 when researchers in Spain investigated how 839 residents reacted to mandatory lockdowns due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
Researchers observed that individuals who had greater personal resources, especially those who reported having “vitality,” had more eustress, despite the fact that many persons reported some discomfort during this period. Happiness here means both mental and physical well.
Inadequate employment, work satisfaction, and living conditions were all linked to emotional distress. It was found that those who had less physical room to move about in reported higher levels of discomfort.
Is it true that all stress is bad for you?
The effects of stress are not always bad. Stress of any kind wears down the body over time, yet in the short term, it may be helpful.
The sympathetic nervous system is activated in reaction to stress, and this triggers the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism. The sympathetic nervous system aids in the fight-or-flight response by:
- circulation that focuses on the muscles
- speeding up one’s heartbeat and breaths to release glucose into the bloodstream, which in turn generates energy.
These alterations in physiology may actually be helpful in certain cases. For instance, an athlete under reasonable stress could get physical advantages from the increased blood flow and oxygen levels, leading to improved performance.
However, when the sympathetic nervous system is chronically or constantly “turned on,” any stress may become detrimental.
This may occur if the individual is under chronic stress, when they feel stressed often for a long time. Conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder might also play a role (PTSD).
Oxidative stress, in which free radicals damage cell DNA, may be triggered by chronic or acute stress. Tissue degradation, an increase in disease risk, and accelerated ageing are all possible outcomes of this kind of injury.
However, “oxidative eustress,” which occurs when a low level of free radicals challenge the body and push it to become more efficient, may result from moderate amounts of stress in the short term.
For instance, the physiological and psychological benefits of exercise are well-documented. Potential benefits include a longer life span and a lower likelihood of developing mental health issues.
Unmanageable stress, stress that lasts for weeks or months, and stress caused by a situation with no clear solution all have the potential to be damaging.
How to Encourage Positive Stress
Several strategies exist for encouraging eustress in individuals. One easy approach to do this is to take part in endeavours that test your abilities but yet seem manageable, with a clear path to success. One option is to:
- the process of picking up a new ability
- creating something fresh playing a game or solving a problem
- coaching or instructing others in physical activity at a level appropriate to their own needs
doing acts of charity
Either making the task simpler or providing more resources might help people experience more eustress when confronted with problems they did not actively seek out. Both help reduce the complexity of the issue.
The company might, for instance, lower workloads or readjust objectives in order to alleviate excessive levels of discomfort among workers.
They may also hire more staff to assist with the workload, provide more training, or cut down on unnecessary meetings to free up more time.
Both individuals and communities may benefit from interventions that prioritise eustress over distress. This makes them crucial to the wellbeing of the general populace.
Knowing when to get assistance
One need not put up with excessive or persistent stress. In fact, it’s been shown that breaking this rule might be harmful to one’s health.
If you’re having trouble dealing with excessive stress or worry, you may want to consult a:
healthcare provider mental health professional/counselor/therapist support group/hotline Human Resources, if work-related
Different kinds of stress are distinguished by names like “eustress” and “distress”. Distress refers to unpleasant emotions and trying situations. Eustress is a state of mental stimulation brought on by a difficult but worthwhile task. Feelings of discomfort may prompt some individuals to take action that ultimately improves the situation. Eustress and distress may manifest in a number of ways.
There is no “correct” way to react to stress; everyone experiences it differently. Some psychologists believe that a person’s access to resources is a major determinant of how stressful an experience can be for a person. An athlete under reasonable stress could get physical advantages from increased blood flow and oxygen levels, leading to improved performance. When the sympathetic nervous system is chronically or constantly “turned on,” any stress may become detrimental. Conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may play a role.
If you’re having trouble dealing with excessive stress or worry, you may want to consult a mental health professional/counselor/therapist support group/hotline Human Resources. Both individuals and communities benefit from interventions that prioritise eustress over distress. This makes them crucial to the wellbeing of the general populace.
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