Everyone goes through periods of stress in their lives. It can spur us on to action, but if it gets too intense, it can harm both our mental and physical well-being. It’s important to understand the key differences between healthy and unhealthy stress, as well as their signs, effects,and coping mechanisms.
Healthy stress, also referred to as eustress, is a type of stress that is good for us. It’s the anxiety we experience when we’re anticipating a challenge or event, like a job interview, a performance, or a competition. Healthy stress is temporary, controllable, and can improve performance by boosting our motivation and alertness. Unhealthy stress, or distress, on the other hand, is a type of stress that can be harmful to our health. It’s the tension we experience when we’re dealing with a significant challenge or a protracted stressful situation, like monetary issues, interpersonal conflict, or a demanding job. Chronic, overwhelming unhealthy stress can cause a variety of physical and mental health issues.
High levels of stress can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health, but they can also be a healthy motivator for high achievers who push us to reach our goals. Understanding which technique is an example of healthy stress management can help when coping with challenges. Effective stress management requires understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy stress.
Understanding the Symptoms
Healthy stress is characterized by the body’s natural “fight or flight” response to a specific challenge. It can cause physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and blood pressure. While these symptoms can be uncomfortable, they usually pass quickly once the challenge is identified and conquered.
On the other hand, unhealthy stress doesn’t have a specific cause. It lingers for longer periods and causes physical and emotional distress that can interfere with everyday life. Symptoms of unhealthy stress can include irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, headaches, and a change in appetite.
Knowing the Consequences
Healthy stress generally has positive outcomes. Which technique is an example of healthy stress management? Our bodies release hormones like adrenaline and others that can give us an energy boost and help us focus when we experience healthy stress. It can support our goals, improve our performance, and teach us new skills. By forcing us to step outside of our comfort zones and challenge us, healthy stress can also help us learn and grow. For instance, when we have a job interview, we might feel healthy stress that inspires us to get ready and present ourselves confidently. Even though the interview may be difficult, it can also be a fantastic chance for us to show off our abilities and win over the interviewer. Physical advantages of healthy stress are also possible. Over time, it can strengthen our immune system, increase our metabolism, and make us more resilient to stress.
Unhealthy stress, however, can have negative and protracted effects. Unhealthy stress causes our bodies to release cortisol, which can have a bad impact on our health. Numerous negative physical and mental effects can result from long-term, excessive stress.
Unhealthy stress can have the following physical side effects.
- Cardiovascular disease: Unhealthy stress can raise blood pressure and heart rate, putting us at risk for heart attacks and strokes.
- Digestive problems: Constipation, diarrhea, nauseousness, and other digestive issues can be brought on by prolonged stress.
- Weakened immune system: Prolonged stress can weaken our immune system, leaving us more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
Unhealthy stress can also have the following mental side effects:
- Anxiety and depression: Unhealthy stress can cause depression and anxiety, leaving us feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
- Anger: Prolonged stress can bring on irritability and frustration.
- Burnout: Chronic stress can lead to burnout, which is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion.
Dealing with Stress
No matter how successful you are, it’s essential to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy stress. Managing your stress levels is key to staying physically and emotionally well. By understanding the signs of excess stress, you can take proactive steps to prevent it from becoming overwhelming.
Learning which technique is an example of healthy stress management is crucial to creating healthy habits that fit with your lifestyle. Healthy stress is manageable if you have the right tools and strategies to manage it effectively. Try making healthy lifestyle changes like eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough restful sleep. Meditation and other relaxation techniques can also help you stay focused and keep your stress levels in check. On the other hand, unhealthy stress needs to be addressed immediately with professional help.
If you need professional help managing your stress, Uncover Mental Health Counseling specializes in Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), an effective treatment for reducing stress, and provides online therapy services to help you develop healthy coping strategies and manage your stress levels effectively. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced therapists and take the first step towards a happier, healthier life.