Definition: Eustress

Eustress is the term that psychologists have given to the positive, entirely manageable levels of stress that we can all experience (Selye 1976).

Eustress is the type of stress that is stimulating and can make some of life's challenges seem quite exciting, particularly if they are self-imposed. When we experience eustress, our performance levels are often quite high and tasks can be quite enjoyable.

However, if periods of eustress continue for too long without periods of calm and a good use of stress management skills, the balance in our systems can get distorted and we can move into experiencing stress.

For instance, one Alexander Technique pupil who is fit, healthy and in his mid thirties, found it very stimulating to respond to a crisis by staying at work day-night-day for over 36 hours without a break, until the task was done. He was tired for a couple of days but he used the Alexander Technique to help himself during his prolonged work period and after it was over, and no harm was done. In fact he felt quite exhilarated by the experience. This was eustress.

If he had been less fit, did not have the skills to look after himself, or if similar demands were too frequently made of him, then his whole system is likely to become exhausted and he would experience full blown stress and strain. Many people at this point become emotionally or physically drained and ill.

Therefore, in order to enjoy the benefits that are available to us with eustress, it is important to develop a range of coping strategies that can help us to maintain a healthy balance in ourselves. By learning the Alexander Technique, we can gain a valuable set of skills that can help us with this process.

 

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