I’ve been thinking a lot recently about stress. As a culture we seem very anti-stress, which makes sense. When you begin to feel stressed it causes the release of cortisol into the body which can weaken your immune system and make your body susceptible to strokes over a long period of time. Not to mention the physiological effects on posture, heart-rate and body.
This is obviously bad, but at the same time stress is a very human thing to feel and to some people is the motivator they use to get up every day and carry on. Believe it or not there is such a thing as positive stress or as it’s more commonly known: Eustress.
Eustress is a short-term form of stress that is beneficial to the person as it inspires action, focus and motivation.
Got an Example?
Imagine you’re an actor and have been offered the role of a lifetime on your dream stage. Initially you are excited because your ability is finally being recognised and you have the chance to show the industry and world just how good you are. Suddenly you start feeling the stress of Imposter Syndrome creeping in: What if I am not ready for such a role? What if my current skills aren’t strong enough to do the role justice?
Eustress is the moment just before the Imposter Syndrome sets in and your mental health begins to suffer. It’s the moment when you hear the criticism and use that to inspire you to improve your skills or develop new ones. In this example, it would be acknowledging this feeling of unpreparedness and responding “Ok, time to get prepared!”, spending more time reading and analysing the text, doing extra acting classes or talking to mentor figures.
Taking action that is motivated by the stress of the task ahead.
Or, in the words of Cindy Gallop, you say to yourself:
“I’m going to f*cking well show you!”
How can I harness Eustress?
As with any idea you need to be open to it. No doubt you already harness Eustress in other aspects of your life, like the stress of paying your rent motivating you to work your money job to pay the bills. Just like acting, directing, designing or any creative skill it is about keeping the muscle flexed and conditioned. Try some of these things:
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