Eustress, I Stress, we all just need a little Stress

Elisa A. Escalante/ LMSW/ 5-9-2020

“When I am absent of challenge, absent of purpose, then I do not really know what I am living and fighting for.”

Some people run from it; others thrive in it: stress. Some prefer comfort, sameness, routine while others need their day shaken up. Maybe an extra curve ball thrown in, an extra challenge. Stress does not always need to be viewed as such a bad thing; it depends on the type of stress. Eustress is known as ‘good stress’, big life events that cause both excitement and nervousness. This can include a promotion, a wedding, a pregnancy, preparing for a championship etc. “Bad stress” are those obnoxious things we would prefer not to have to do, but we must as adults: paying bills, putting up with a crappy boss, academic assignments, changing the baby’s diarrhea filled diaper, that painful exercise routine when we would rather be on the couch. Regardless of how hard we try, we will encounter stressor’s, it is an inevitable part of our human existence. Even the quote on quote ‘bad stress’ leads to positive outcomes such as a roof over our heads, a healthy family, and a healthier mental/physical health in the long run.

     What is the best way to manage stress so that we accomplish what we want in life and do not burnout? I say, do not run from stress, but also, do not create unnecessary stress.

Do not Run from stress (Not even the ‘bad’ stress):

  • If something scares us a bit, but we genuinely want it, why not go for it?
  • If we have goals, we should not let stressful objectives stand in our way of achieving those goals. It is all a part of the process.
  • If we run from everything that causes any amount of stress, always remember we will accomplish nothing.
  • Accept stress as a part of our daily life. Train to keep a moderate pace through the stress, and not to shut down the moment stress hits.
  • Learn to appreciate delayed gratification. Life is not always about getting an award the moment we do something good, sometimes it takes years of good to accomplish something bigger.

Do Not Create Unnecessary Stress

  • Do not bite off more than we can chew, if anyone has a pattern of this it is best to see where it stems from: competitiveness, insecurities, mental health issues, lazy and/ or abusive partner, savior complex etc
  • Anxiety is a large determinant for making any situation more stressful. The top 2 unhealthy thought patterns that contribute to anxiety: Mind reading/ Future predicting. Neither are possible and yet we try often, which only fuels the stress.
  • Once we decide to commit, it is best to stay committed. Rescheduling and dealing with constant mind and date changes will not help.
  • Prepare! Procrastination is a sure way to increase stress and make us less likely to stick with our goals.
  • Practice self-love and self-care as much as possible. An unhealthy mind and body will make any task more stressful.

Find your Passion

     When we find passion, we find that thing that is worth stressing over. We find something that is worth chasing, despite large amounts of mental and physical stressor’s it may cause. Some people report not knowing what they are passionate about, and this is a large part of why some people struggle with low motivation or a desire to do anything. Again, we have ‘bad stress’ and eustress, which is exhausting if there is absolutely no passion with what we are putting ourselves through. Anyone that has had something they were passionate about, that they lived for, breathed for, and almost died for, they will usually say that the pain/ stress did not matter. They needed that pain/ stress the way they needed water, food, air, and sleep. It may sound a bit morbid, but this is exactly what successful people have that keeps them going through hardships and mental breakdowns: passion for something beyond themselves. There is a goal, something to accomplish, something to live for. Idle time is not good for people, but some succumb to it when they cannot find joy/ passion in anything.

     If we find ourselves absent of passion, it is likely we did not get the chance to explore it. This could be due to pressure from parents, peers, or occupational demands. Explore it, face the fear, face the stress and adversity, and have fun along the way. Sometimes we find we have multiple passions and therefore more activities worth stressing over. The longer we engage in the life stressor’s of doing the things we love most, the more we practice and embrace this way of life. We all need stress, both good and bad. The key is finding the things in our lives that are worth stressing over.

That Passion will create a Sense of Purpose

     Yes, we need a sense of purpose to create our endurance through the roller coaster/ stressors that are life. Finding what we are passionate about can foster a sense of purpose, making all of life stressor’s more tolerable and worth doing. A sense of purpose leads us to continue with our self-care and endurance, so that we may live to continue down a path that we love, that gives our lives meanings. When people do not have a sense of purpose, they are more likely to be idle, sedentary, depressed, abusing drugs and/ or struggling with a low self-esteem.  

     If we find ourselves getting to this point, it is important that we do not give up hope. There is always a way to fight through stress and even mental illness. There is always a way to find something that is worth fighting for. When a client gets to a point where they have processed their pain and they are ready to rejoin society, it is an exciting time. We can brainstorm and find passion and purpose sometimes with the help of our therapists, peers, family members, coworkers, and/ or internet! Sometimes this journey includes abandoning something that was not worth stressing over and replacing it with something new that has promise.


     If we are on this journey of finding our passion and sense of purpose, fighting through daily life stressors and there are some serious obstacles to our wellbeing, it is time to reconsider what we have prioritized in life. Unfortunately, people get in what we call “stuck points”, where they are miserably living life in the only way they feel they can. Sometimes it is obligation, guilt, abuse, or self-sabotage. Regardless of what it is, a good rule of thumb is that if we are chronically miserable, our life needs serious changes.

     Accept some stress as a part of life, but do not create unnecessary stress. Find passion, find purpose, and eliminate/ filter out anything or anyone that stands in the way of that plan. We only have one life, and regardless of what our influencers and minds might believe, we are not bound to a lifetime fate of misery/ excruciating stress.

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

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