Eustress and Stress – Do They Really Exist?

I’m going to ask the question here because I’ve been wondering a lot about it recently.  Does eustress really exist?

Stress is a tough part of life that affects pretty much everyone but not all stress is equal.  People perceive stress differently.  YOU might consider a jog in the park to watch the sunrise over the skyscrapers at 5am to be invigorating, refreshing, relaxing and something which sets you up for the day.  However, I absolutely assure you that hauling myself out of bed at such an unearthly hour to torture my feet (I suffer from significant foot pain), would be interminable stress for me!

Stress is perceived differently and interpreted differently by everyone.  It is a personal thing.  In fact your “stress reaction” is thought to be as individual to you as your fingerprint is. 

So when I read about different types of stress, I’m not sure what to make of it. 

I’m talking about stress (bad stress) and eustress (good stress).

The argument goes that eustress is the kind of stress which is more like anticipation, excitement, adrenalin rush.  Eustress is what an athlete feels at the start of a race, what student feels as they await their exam results and what everyone who has ever proposed to anyone felt as they went down on bended knee.  Eustress helps you achieve more, focus more, be more.

But, does it really exist?

Bear with me.  I know what I’ve just described obviously does exist, but my point is, is it really something different from stress itself?  Or is it simply that these non life threatening situations naturally lead to a more positive perception of the stressful situation? Is it your decision to interpret stress positively which makes it eustress?

In other words, is eustress really stress at all? Or does the positive mental state that people tend to have in the above circumstances as they await a pleasureable outcome, actually change it from being “stress” to something more positive, such as excitement, hope, expectation, pleasure?

What do you think?  Does the very act of perceiving stress in a positive way actually change it from being stress?  Or is there such a thing as eustress?

Author: SOT


2 thoughts on “Eustress and Stress – Do They Really Exist?”

  1. Hi Susan

    After reading the post, I was thinking about it and then suddenly I realized that I have to leave a comment. So here I am. Information is awesome for those who are not using applied psychology every day in our lives. Empowerment makes a great difference and we can distinguish the difference in the level of stress and may know what is stressing us more.
    This can help us to avoid what bothers us more.

    Wow Susan your blog post is awesome.

    Thank you
    Make it a great day for yourself
    Fran Aslam

  2. I’ve never heard of eustress before Susan, but it makes sense to separate good and bad stress.

    However stress is created in the mind, and transmitted to the body which emits physical effects.

    As you said, people perceive stressful situations in different ways. One persons stress is another persons eustress.

    I know some excellent athletes who always underperform in a race, simply because they can’t handle the stress.


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