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Self-Care, Part 7: The Tension of Bad Stress

by Julia Bruce

part 7 graphic

 “I called to the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and put in a spacious place.
The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Psalm 118:5-6 (HCSB)

You are probably most familiar with bad stress. When you are experiencing eustress, you probably don’t recognize it as stress since it can be associated with good things in life, such as planning a wedding or receiving a promotion. Bad stress, however, is the opposite. This type of stress is known as “distress.”  We reach a point of distress when stress becomes too much for us to bear. When the tension builds to the point of distress, there is no longer any fun in the challenge. We see no forthcoming relief. There is no end in sight. If eustress acts as a motivator, than distress becomes a de-motivator. When we are in distress, our performance decreases, we tend to make poor decisions, we experience anxiety and it can lead to mental health problems as well as physical problems. While eustress can be exciting, distress feels unpleasant. Take a moment and list some examples of stressors in your life that would be distress.

Examples of distress can include the following:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Separation from spouse
  • Conflict in relationships
  • Hospitalization
  • Illness/injury
  • Abuse/neglect
  • Legal problems
  • Changes
  • Unemployment
  • Sleep problems
  • Problems with children
  • Financial problems

Looking over your lists of eustress (created in a previous blog post) and distress, which do you have more of in your life right now?

Whether your stress is bad stress or good stress – it’s still…

stress cartoon

This blog is part 7 in a series. Be sure to begin with part 1.

Return on Thursday, October 11th for Part 8 in the blog series on Self-Care:
Symptoms of Stress

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