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  • Writer's pictureDr. Francis Battisti & Dr. Helen Battisti

The Zone - Volume 133

Stress…friend or foe?

Stress is not new to most of us, especially having just experienced the Pandemic over the past few years. However, the term is used so often and in so many ways the actual understanding and appreciation of what it is and how it impacts our experiences of the world might get lost. What is stress and how does it affect me?

Most historians and stress researchers trace the modern formulation of stress research to an article written in 1936 by Hungarian scientist Hans Selye, the father of stress research. He took the word stress from the science of physics which is used in physics to refer to the interaction between a force and the resistance to counter that force. Hans Selye was the first scientist to incorporate this term into medical language to describe the nonspecific response of the body to any demand. His work is referred to as the “general adaptation syndrome” alarm…resistance...adaptation.

Selye introduced the concept of stress having two categories, eustress and distress. He believed that eustress is stress that has a positive impact on an individual and it is what energizes and motivates us to make changes. Distress is stress which negatively impacts an individual and he stated, “It is not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it”.

How do we balance all the stress in our lives and keep our mind and body healthy? While much has been written and known about the negative impacts of stress, known as distress, not as much is discussed or known by individuals of positive stress, known as eustress.

Techniques such as relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, cognitive restructuring are approaches to better handle distress. Eustress, according to Clinical psychiatrist Dr. Michael Genovese, “produces positive feelings of excitement, fulfillment, meaning, satisfaction, and well-being”. He goes on to explain that “eustress is good because you feel confident, adequate and stimulated by the challenge you experience from the stressor.”

Psychologist, Dr. Kara Fasone says “eustress is all about sufficiently challenging yourself without expending all your resources. This type of stress empowers you to grow in three areas; Emotionally, psychologically, and physically.”

Keeping one’s mind, body and spirit in balance takes focus, discipline and motivation. The result of this effort is the greater possibility of living your life to the fullest extent possible.


Key Takeaways

  • Eustress is good for us.

  • Our interpretation and preparation are important determinants of good or bad stress.

  • Remember to continue to practice techniques that help us decrease our distress.

Best Practices

  • Working and living outside of our comfort zone is good.

  • Learn something new every day.

  • Set realistic and challenging goals.

Things to Limit

  • Focusing on negatives.

  • Using all your mental resources on worrying.

  • Being the dark cloud in the room. Joe Btfsplk (Character from Li’l Abner comic strip)


Quote of the Week

“We feel distress instead of eustress when we perceive something to be a threat rather than a challenge.”

~Teal Swan


Increasing the eustress in various parts of your life enhances the mindset that you can better handle whatever comes your way. For example, when taking on new challenging tasks at work, see how you can challenge yourself to do the best you can. Use the experience to learn more about your strengths and resources that you possess.

Be well,

The paraDocs

Picture: Jason Hogan Unsplash

Check our Welcome Greeting on YouTube

The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.

We have developed "The ZONE", because that is exactly where you want to be during this pandemic. A place of focused attention to doing exactly what needs to be done to get you to where you need to be. The purpose of The Zone is to provide a nationally distributed weekly mental-health and nutrition tip-sheet during times of change.

If you would like to get copies of The ZONE that you may have missed or if you know someone that would like to start receiving The ZONE, please signup today... It's free and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Permission is given to share with others.

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