Hi, Amanda here again! I don’t love the all or nothing feel of good and bad, so eustress and distress are my favorite ways to describe the two sides of the stress spectrum. When we think of stress, we usually go right to the distress category. That makes sense, that is the toxic side of the spectrum and is often the only time we think of stress. I think it’s really important to look at the eustress side of the spectrum too, because this is actually how we tone our nervous system! Our bodies are made to experience stress. The part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight system is present in most mammals and helps us respond to threats. It is designed to activate the sympathetic nervous system to deal with the stressor/threat, and then designed so the parasympathetic nervous system takes over and brings us back down to rest and digest. Chronic, toxic stress messes up this balance because the sympathetic nervous system is kind of “always on” and we don’t ever really get the calm and balanced feeling that is supposed to come after.
One of my favorite ways to create eustress is lifting weights. There is absolutely nothing more thrilling than getting set up to bench with a new potential max loaded on the bar, taking the rep, feeling the grind of trying to push like never before, and hearing the bar rack again. It’s absolutely a euphoric feeling, a feeling of power, a feeling of mastery, and you better believe my body is like “okay I’m done, let’s go eat and sleep” afterwards. It’s one of the concrete ways I can create eustress, provide opportunities for my nervous system to learn what it is like to fully complete that fight or flight process, and I gain more awareness of what I may need to bring this into some of my experiences with distress.
What are some ways that you create or can create a little eustress in your life?