Eustress vs Distress

The myth of positive stress - What causes eustress?

According to a study by Techniker Krankenkasse, more than half of Germans are stressed “at least sometimes. The trend has been rising sharply in recent years.

Sustained and high levels of stress have long-term effects on mental and physical health.

But what about positive stress? Don’t we need a certain level to really perform at our best? And how positive is it really?

According to Dr. Guy Bodemann, stress researcher at the University of Zurich, stress is a subjective experience. Because stress is a subjective concept, it is not an event, but something that each person experiences differently and to which they react differently. For example, an executive may be totally wound up and nervous before a presentation of quarterly figures. While another executive is looking forward to the presentation because she can now really shine again.

A person’s demands and competencies are in balance when she is not experiencing stress. Internal and external demands and resources are balanced when we do not feel stressed. When the demands are greater than the available resources, we become imbalanced. When we are out of balance, our body reacts with stress.

Stress has the most diverse effects

Stress can have very complicated effects on the body, mind and behavior. Chronic stress can cause cardiovascular problems, migraines, diabetes, heartburn or stomach ulcers, among other things. When a person feels overwhelmed or helpless, it can lead to mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. In addition, negative effects on the social environment and the profession are also possible.

Eustress and distress - what is the difference?

It is important to recognize that not all forms of stress are the same. Many people try to avoid and repress the tension involved. There is even a type of positive stress called eustress. The stress response is an internal driving force. Many people complain about distress, the kind of stress they don’t like. A summary of the distinctions:


Eustress stimulates us to accomplish tasks and reach our goals, and motivates us. It contributes greatly to motivating us to overcome all kinds of difficulties. The feeling before the first kiss or wedding is an example of eustress. Tension before important competitions or exams is also a sign of eustress. This type of stress is beneficial because it makes people work harder. However, it should only be experienced to a certain degree. The demands on people are increasing, while their ability to cope with them is decreasing. At this point, a change occurs – distress arises.

Eustress - positive stress


Negative stress, also called distress, occurs when positive eustress gives way to typical negative stress. Critical life events, a constantly stressed psyche or a tight schedule can trigger this. Above all, time is crucial for the perception of negative stress. This does not only mean time pressure, but also time spent in stressful situations. Examples include overwork at work or constant disputes in the home.

Stress is part of life

According to Kristen Fescoe, clinical program manager at Resility Health in Florida, people shouldn’t assume they need to be calm and relaxed all the time. So, starting every day with this desire only guarantees failure. So it can be relaxing to understand that you yourself will not always be calm. Everyone experiences stress, and that’s a good thing.

Eustress Distress Übersicht

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