Most people think of stress as this negative and harmful concept, but that’s actually a modern misconception. Stress can be one of the most useful tools you have biologically. When used correctly in the right situations, it can help you thrive.

However, this is not something many of us know how to do. Stress is a physiological and psychological response that we have in response to our environments. If you find your stress levels rising and you’re having trouble coping, this is where stress starts to become a problem.

This is the foundation between what makes eustress and distress different, and in today’s guide, we’ll going to explore this topic fully.

What Is Eustress?

Eustress is a relatively new concept that describes a positive, helpful, and motivating type of stress. Eustress, in contrast to distress, motivates people to work hard, improve their performance, and achieve their goals, even when faced with obstacles.

However, it’s important to note that both eustress and distress cause the fight or flight response to activating in the body and brain.

The difference is that in eustress, the energy provided is proportionate to the situation’s needs, whereas, in distress, the energy provided is excessive or unusable.

In any given situation, whether a person feels distressed or eustressed is largely determined by their perception of themselves and the stressor.

Positive stress is more likely to occur when a person is confident in their ability to overcome the stressor. 3,4,6 This positive view of the stressor allows them to channel the energy released by the fight or flight response into productive endeavors.

So, Distress is?

Most people say they feel “stressed out”; this is because they’re dealing with distress, the negative form of stress. People who are distressed will typically feel overwhelmed or anxious. They may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, tension, insomnia, inattentiveness, and irritability.

Stress, which is caused by an influx of the hormone Cortisol, is toxic to the body and brain. It has been linked to a variety of physical and mental illnesses and impairing a person’s ability to function. If you’re looking for ways to calm down from this type of stress, you might want to try the following:

  • Meditating
  • Going for a walk
  • Sorting out your sleeping pattern
  • Using CBD gummies to relax
  • Eating a proper diet
  • Seeing friends
  • Exercising

What Are the Differences Between Eustress and Distress?

While the physiological signs of eustress and distress are similar (i.e., increased heart rate, breathing, and energy), the psychological signs of good and bad stress are distinct.

The problem is that this can vary from person to person, and will be very contextual to the person, thus going back to whether that individual sees the situation as a positive or negative thing.

For example, if there was a car accident, the person in the crash will become stressed and emotional to the point where they break down, whereas an emergency services worker relies on the stress to help them focus and perform to the best of their ability.

To give some more examples, distress could come from areas of life like:

  • Money
  • Workplace tensions political climate
  • Violence or crime: what is the nation’s future?
  • Overabundance of media
  • Illness or physical health
  • Loneliness or relationship problems
  • A lack of sleep
  • Nutritional deficiencies

On the other hand, the following are some examples of eustress causes:

  • Getting a job promotion
  • A person’s upcoming event that they are hosting
  • Taking part in a concert
  • Having a child
  • Transferring to a new city


As you can see, the differences between both eustress and distress are quite clear, and if you’re able to stay mindful of what they are and how each one serves or doesn’t serve you, you can dramatically change your life and how you feel in any given situation, all while reducing the negative effects that stress has on your life.