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Stress; distress & eustress

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Stress; distress & eustress

Ever been there? Unnerved with a tight looming deadline, tension in a relationship, or feeling helpless even with numerous responsibilities to live up to. “Stress” just seems synonymous with every negative situation. Common yet inevitable it is in our daily lives, what can we do about it? If constantly left unaddressed, it can lead to serious implications for our health.

As emphasized by a famous stress researcher named Dr. Hans Selye, it is the combination of different stressors that give rise to stress. Stress is defined as the feeling when an individual perceives an imbalance of power in his or her situation, where a challenge or task seems to be overwhelming as compared to resources available. The “stressors” that play a part in causing stress usually come in the form of physical, chemical or even psychological events or causes. While there are many stressors, one important thing to note is how we view them.

Negative and chronic stress can arise from stressors like family dispute and breakup in the long run (distress) can lead to a variety of negative impacts on health such as “unhealthy eating, skin problems, smaller brain size, and even an increased likelihood of chronic disease”. 

As scary as it may sound, it is important to take note that not all stress is necessarily bad. With the right management plan, it does not have to be what ruins our life and health, rather we can actually leverage it to achieve more and even come out stronger. Positive and moderate stress like starting a new job, challenge or even parenthood (eustress) can be helpful, with studies showing that eustress actually helps enhance one’s performance and resilience. Simply speaking, tough times can produce tougher people.

What this means is the solution is not to avoid stress, but rather we have to find a way to manage our stress in a healthy manner, avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, excessive drinking or even drugs. We can actually choose how we want to deal with stress, as Dr Hans Selye concludes the matter, “stress is not what happens to you, but how you react to it”. If you are feeling overwhelmed now, hold your horses. Here is a simple truth, we can choose how we want to react to the stressors, for it all boils down to our stress management. 

One simple way would be to live and react mindfully in all our circumstances. Take time and live mindfully. Find some space alone, have a cup of your favourite drink, meditate silently, allow your mind to be free, reflect through the “whys” and be thoroughly at peace. To aid you further, we have also written 5 ways to live mindfully.

Give yourself the gift of time right today and live mindfully in the present. Be it going through the stress of the ongoing pandemic, the pressure at work or the uncertainty, the bottom line is this, we all can be more than just victims of stress we can if we simply choose to live presently.