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Eustress vs Distress: Positive & Negative Types of Stress

Eustress is a type of stress that is positive, useful, and motivating. Contrasting distress, eustress motivates people to work hard, increase their performance, and reach their goals, even in the face of challenges.

Distress is the negative kind of stress that people associate with feeling of being “stressed out”. Distress tends to cause people to feel exhausted, anxious, and to experience physical and psychological symptoms such as headaches, stiffness, insomnia, absentmindedness or irritability. Frequent, intense or chronic stress is toxic to the body and brain and is related to a number of physical and mental diseases, as well as impairing a person’s ability to function.

The difference in eustress and distress has to do with the stressor(s) that initiated the response and the way the person evaluates these. Distress is caused when a person believes the stressor or stressors are not within their control or ability to fix.

Examples how distress impacts you Examples how eustress impacts you
Lack of sleep Increased productivity
Headache Creates excitement
Fatigue Increased energy
Mood changes Positive outlook
Chest pains Increases resilience
Digestion issues Increased focus
Feeling overwhelmed Lack of focus


Examples of distress causes/ stressors Examples of eustress causes/ stressors
Financial crisis Holiday
Illness or injury Achieving a goal
Work problems Exercise
Relationship problems Building relationships
Life event such as death, marriage, newborn Listening to music, experiencing arts
Worries about another person Socializing
And many more…… And many more……

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