Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Give Me Some Good Stress

It is Hell Week at the Rhode Center for the Arts, where I am playing Clarice in Rudolph the Pissed Off Reindeer. I teach all day, attempt to nap in the late afternoon, and have rehearsals in the evening. Last night, I didn't make it to sleep until after midnight. But I am excited about what I am doing, and I am contributing to things I care about. What I am experiencing is good stress.

Is there such a thing?

Actually, yes. Unlike the stress you hear about most often, good stress (more specifically: eustress), is relatively healthy. It gives you a sense of fulfillment and positivity. You are pushing toward a goal or potentially beneficial outcome. You experience the same physical reaction to eustress as you do to bad stress (distress), but the result is much more enjoyable.

According to Cognopedia, the term eustress was coined by endocrinologist Hans Seyle in 1975. He published a model that divided stress into two major categories: distress and eustress. While distress can cause anxiety, withdrawal, or depression, eustress involves an increase in mental or physical functioning.

Other than my crazy-busy schedule of teaching and acting, there are a few eustress-inducing activities I don't (or wouldn't) mind:
  • Coming in first place
  • Getting a promotion at work
  • Sexual intercourse 
I'll take eustress over distress any day!

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