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?

Guided Imagery as a Stress Buster

Stress is universal.  Everyone suffers from it in some form or other.  And there are as many different types of stress reduction techniques and methods it seems!  You can distress using medications or herbs; incorporate diet and exercise changes into your life; meditate; do calming deep breathing exercises that have a soothing effect on your nervous system and so on.  

Now I’m not one for medicating if I can do something “natural”, by which I mean non-invasive (I definitely do not think some yoga positions are in any way “natural” – well not for me anyway! LOL)  Anyway, one interesting stress busting method I’ve heard a lot about is guided imagery.

Guided imagery is a technique for stress reduction that uses directed thoughts and images to guide your mind up a path to a more relaxed and focused state.  It is based on the concept that your mind and body are connected and what the mind suggests, the body can feel and experience.  So when the mind is becoming calmer and more relaxed, the body follows.  In essence you “think” yourself into becoming less stressed. 

I am a strong believer in the power of the mind and this technique has been shown to have powerful effects.  But it does need practice.  Guided imagery can be done by using CDs, scripts or with the help of a trained instructor.  A friend of mineclaims that when the guided imagery session is complete, he feels calmer, more focused, better physically and less stressed.  And it seems he’s not the only one.

In fact, when guided imagery is used on a regular basis as part of a stress reduction program, it can combine with other relaxation techniques to produce much lower overall levels of stress and longer lasting feelings of relaxation and of being more capable of dealing with life’s stresses.

And like all stress relief programs, guided imagery can help lower blood pressure.  But it can also be used to deal with pain, and help the body heal itself quicker.  And it can also be a useful tool in your armory when battling weight loss or want to kick your smoking habit. 

Actually, I’ve read so much about it recently that I think I’m definitely going to try it.  If you’ve done it, let me know how you’ve found it.