Eustress vs. distress – stress isn’t the enemy

I find it sort of funny when I hear about stress reduction programs and approaches out there that are focused on reducing stress in our lives.  It’s sort of impossible to get rid of stress or even reduce the potential for outside events to bring stress into our lives.  We just don’t have control over so much.  The only thing we have control over is our reactions to stressful events.

So instead of thinking of stress reduction and vilifying this big ubiquitous thing we call stress we can shift our paradigm to a stress reactivity approach.  We can sort of try to make friends with stress, invite it into our consciousness, listen to what it’s telling us about ourselves and our struggles and then work on building the internal and external muscles that allow us to react to stress in a more adaptive way instead of maladapative.  This approach has the potential to take any type of stress and shift it into something more beneficial to us.  Again, these ideas I pontificate about seem so oversimplified I know yet so much more complicated.  Yet, I feel like we need to work on a paradigm shift and go macro to micro.

Eustress is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye. The word eustress consists of two parts. The prefix eu- derives from the Greek word meaning either “well” or “good.” When attached to the word stress, it literally means “good stress”.


So the question is how can we take ‘stress’ and find ways to shift it, as much as we can, into eustress?

Well it might help to look at becoming more stress resilient.  Building resiliency is a complex endeavor but it often requires us to actually FEEL the stress we are currently under instead of dissociating from it.  Sometimes we have to fully experience our discomfort before we feel motivated to change.

Stress tolerance is the power to endure stress. If you feel stress, lose against or not all depends on your stress tolerance. A person’s tolerance to stress is not only different according to the person but is also influenced by time and condition. So tolerance to stress may differ largely to the same person according to the time and condition in which it is experienced. Mainly, the personality and physique, environment and condition change the strengh of tolerance to stress. Taken from

For example, many people hope to feel better immediately after starting a meditation program.  However, the journey to a more focused and resilient mind often requires travelling through a lot of ‘waking up’ and discomfort before we get to the other side.  The lack of immediate relief is what makes people drop meditation programs.  We will not feel ‘better’ for some time.

Or when people start moving again and building physical resilience, it doesn’t always feel good at first.  Sometimes, we have to become aware of how we aren’t feeling strong or experience the pain and inflammation in our bodies before we can get to the other side.  And sometimes we need to be kind to ourselves and accept that we will get totally overloaded sometimes and we need to try to be gentle with ourselves to return to better equilibrium.

I think a leap of faith and support is central.  I know I’m blessed with much support and increasing faith in my personal change process.  I would flounder without both of these.  Thank you universe and those people in my life I can lean on.  Trusting in a process that will help become more emotionally and physically resilient is central and allowing ourselves to not feel the benefits right away and travel through some guck is essential.  This resistance at the beginning of committing to changing the way we respond to stress is the first test of our desire to become more of a master of our lives and futures.

Much love,