Stress lady at laptop

Can stress actually be good for you?

Stress is a perfectly normal experience in life which can be triggered by circumstances individual to each of us.

While we rarely hear anyone saying, “I’m so happy to be stressed”, there are definitely some stresses in our life that can be considered as ‘good stress’.

So, what is stress anyway?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to a perceived demand or physical threat. We often feel stress as a physical or emotional response which causes our body to enter a state of protection called “fight-or-flight”. Whether our stress is impacting physical or emotional being, any kind of threat to the body has a major influence on our mood, well-being and health.


Stress can be triggered from a range of things in our lives that affects us all in different ways. You might notice sometimes feeling stressed can motivate us to accomplish goals and work productively, while other times it can leave us feeling totally overwhelmed and unable to move forward. Often, because we are from all different walks of life, our triggers and symptoms of stress vary.  This is where we need to identify both the physical and emotional symptoms of our own stress. Some these symptoms may include:

Physical responses

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

Emotional responses

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others
  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Good stress vs bad stress

While a lot of us associate stress as a negative impact in our life, often we don’t realise there is healthy stressors that that can be considered good. Stress that motivates us to move forward can be considered good, while stress that impacts our health and wellbeing is notably bad news.

How is some stress good?

In small doses, stress can work to our advantage. It has the ability to advise us how to respond to a situation based off the stressor hormones released in the body. Essentially, when we experience stress in small doses within certain situations, it can motivate and drive us to work efficiently and achieve our goals.

This is because when stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine are released, our body signals a fight-or-flight response that can actually result in positive outcomes. An example of good stress would be adrenaline based activities such as bungee jumping or on the other hand, being productive at work to complete a short term target.

Sources of bad stress

Bad stress can be categorised in two different ways, acute or chronic. We usually experience acute stress as quick spurts of energy toward a surprise trigger such as dodging harms way. Usually, acute stress subsides when a solution is found or a problem is resolve, therefore returning us to a neutral state.

On the other hand, Chronic stress is a repeated stress that feels never ending.  We may experience this type of bad stress in serious situations such as continual pressures at work or situations including recurring conflict.