In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become an inevitable part of our lives. But while we commonly think of stress as a bad thing, that’s not necessarily true. Positive stress, also referred to as ‘eustress’ by mental health professionals, can actually be a good thing in the right conditions. Certain levels of stress help keep your mind and body alert and ready to respond. It can be motivating and could even help you perform better.

Dr Vicki Edwards, our Clinical Director at Purple House Clinic Leicester, takes an insightful dive into the dual nature of stress and offers some practical tips on how to deal with life’s challenges. While it can be debilitating, it also holds the potential for positive transformation. By understanding the complexities of stress, it is possible to convert stress into productive energy and harness its power to foster personal growth and resilience.

What is stress?

Stress manifests as a physical and emotional response to life’s challenges or changes. It’s a normal sensation prompted by situations that induce feelings of frustration, anger, or nervousness. Stress is essentially the body’s way of rising to a challenge. In moderation, it serves beneficial purposes, such as prompting us to dodge peril or meet urgent deadlines. However, when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.

What is good stress?

Good stress is a form of stress that can have various positive impacts. Examples of good stress include experiences such as going on a first date, starting a new job, anticipating an upcoming test or exam, or preparing for an important speech. This type of stress can teach us valuable lessons about our strengths and resilience, often leading to a positive self-perception. It acts as a strong motivator, increasing focus and driving us toward specific goals.

In the right conditions, the extra adrenaline caused by stress can even improve performance, with 54% of people agreeing that a perfect amount of stress enables them to thrive1. Stressful events can also foster a sense of solidarity and support among people, as sharing experiences and seeking advice in tough times brings comfort. Additionally, stressful situations often force individuals to step out of their comfort zones and confront difficult circumstances, which can lead to personal growth, increased self-confidence, and the development of new skills. Understanding and harnessing this aspect of stress can guide it into becoming something positive and productive.

What is bad stress?

Bad stress, often evolving from ‘good stress’, manifests in various forms, such as relationship strain, the passing of a friend or spouse, financial difficulties, or workplace pressures. It primarily comes in two types – acute and chronic. Acute stress is a type of stress that arises suddenly in response to a specific event or situation. It’s often a direct reaction to a perceived challenge or threat. Managing acute stress effectively involves recognising the stressor and employing coping strategies to relax and regain balance. By finding ways to manage acute stress we can limit its impact and reduce the chances of any potential long-term health consequences.

In contrast, chronic stress results from repeatedly facing stressors that take a heavy toll, such as a stressful job or an unhappy home life. Our bodies are not equipped to handle chronic stress and enduring it for extended periods can lead to severe physical and mental health issues. When you’re stuck in a state of bad stress, your endocrine, digestive, excretory, immune, circulatory, and reproductive systems cannot perform their normal activities. The chronic stress you undergo changes your entire way of physical, psychological, and physiological functioning. If left unresolved, these stress-related issues can escalate into serious health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and heart disease.

How to deal with stress

Dealing with stress effectively can be tricky as each individual is different, but prioritising your well-being is crucial. This means finding ways to relax and unwind, developing new hobbies that bring joy, and paying attention to your physical health. Staying active and spending time outdoors have been shown to reduce stress. Physical activity releases ‘good hormones’ which counteract stress and help your body to regulate itself, reducing the symptoms of anxiety associated with stress. It’s not about training for a marathon; it might be a walk around the park with friends or moving about in a lunch break.

Building a strong support network is also important for managing stress. This includes friends and family, as well as seeking support at work, school, or university. Knowing you’re not alone and that everyone experiences stress at some point can be incredibly reassuring. It’s also important to identify the triggers of your stress. While it may not always be possible to avoid these triggers, being prepared and aware can significantly reduce their impact and help you cope with the situation better.

Finally, set realistic and achievable goals. Setting the bar too high can create more stress, whereas reaching targets can create a sense of accomplishment and achievement. By addressing stress from these various angles, you can manage it more effectively and maintain a healthier, more balanced life.

At Purple House Clinic we have specialists that cover a range of mental health and neurodiverse services. If you are finding it hard to manage your stress, we can help. For more information, please visit:

Watch Our Franchise Q&A Video

Enter your contact information below and you will be redirected to watch our Franchise Q&A video!

*We will never share your details with any third parties.