Stress, strain, distress, eustress... All these buzzwords are getting attention right now. Some of it is productive and some of it is detrimental. Let’s look at what these words mean, how they impact the body and your business and how to take advantage of them.
Stress is the body’s response to changes in its inner or outer environment. It is also a state where there is emotional tension or strain as a result from a demanding or adverse situation. These changes in the environment, or demanding and adverse situations, can be called stressors.
A stressor can be anything that causes the body to experience a stress response, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Other examples of stressors are: deadlines, rent & bills, obtaining clients, managing a team, finances/budget, liability insurance & waivers and balancing the demands of business with family and personal circumstances.
The famous endocrinologist Hans Selye built on this definition by stating there’s two types of stress: distress and eustress. His model refers the stress defined above as “distress” and states the following is the body’s reaction as a result of experiencing distress:
Examples of the body’s distress response:
Fatigue (chronic tiredness)
Sleeplessness/Difficulty falling asleep/Difficulty staying asleep
Moodiness (anxiety, irritability, sadness, frequent crying)
Temper tantrums/Struggle to control angry outbursts
A change in appetite (increase/decrease)
Digestion issues (constipation, diarrhea, nausea)
A consistent negative attitude
Struggles with concentration
His model says not all stress is bad, however. There is also a concept of eustress.
Definition of Eustress: This type of stress can be beneficial to the body. The prefix “EU” comes from Greek and means, “good.” The term, eustress, literally refers to “good stress!” Some demands and changes in the environment can create a positive reaction in the body. Experiencing exciting environmental changes also create a response in the body. The concept of Eustress was originally explored by Richard Lazarus and built on by Hans Selye (Wade & Tavris, 2017)
Examples of Eustress Events: Reaching financial goals, seeing & experiencing the success of a client, building a successful team of fitness professionals, business expansion, celebrations and anniversaries in family life, taking a vacation and reaching personal milestones & accomplishments.
Examples of the Body’s Eustress Response:
Feelings of confidence
Perception that the task can be accomplished
Belief that the end result will be positive
Using eustress to balance distress is one effective way to manage stress and to use it as fuel for your business! By choosing to do activities that create eustress (good stress), it creates a good reaction in the body and helps to handle distress.
Examples of Eustress Activities:
1) Movement/Fitness-related activities
2) Socializing with friends
3) Meditating or practicing mindfulness-based activities
4) Listening to positive, uplifting music
5) Talking about distress to someone you trust, who understands and can help you problem-solve
You can also take time to focus on eustress-ful events happening in your life such as:
1) Personal milestones such as starting a new relationship, getting married or having a baby
2) Professional success in the business such as reaching a financial goal or client reaching their goal, or developing a team or business expansion
3) Planning and taking a vacation
4) Buying a new home
5) A favorite holiday, occasion or sports season starting
Let’s face it, having a business is challenging. Yet it can be rewarding and fun, too. The key would be to focus and leverage the concept of eustress to find a balance.