Did you know that there are stressors that can be beneficial to your health and well-being? Eustress is a beneficial form of stress that is normally planned. An example of this type of stressor would be going for a run. The run acts as a challenge to your current state (stressor) but is useful for your body to develop stronger muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and increase your fitness level.

Unfortunately, not all stress is good stress. The alternative to Eustress is Distress. This is a negative form of stress that disturbs your physical or mental equilibrium in a negative way. Distress can take on many forms such as loss of a loved one, difficulty at work, going through a divorce… all of these things and much more work against your body to take you out of a state of Homeostasis.

… that is …

The tendency of your body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment.

See, an individual’s perception and reaction to stress are what determines if the physiological interpretation is eustress or distress. By training areas such as heart rate variability, diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, and other forms of active recovery you are improving your heart’s ability to respond well to stress.

Think of the heart like a rubber band. When an individual has poor heart rate variability, their heart is like an old, rigid rubber band. Anytime a new stressor is introduced to the rubber band, it doesn’t have the ability to flex well, so it snaps very easily. However, for someone who has a strong heart rate variability and works on actively recognizing and managing their stress levels; their heart imitates a new, flexible rubber band that can easily adapt and flex with changing conditions and stressors.

So, practice your deep breathing throughout the day, find ways to take breaks by going for a walk, talking with a friend, stretching, or whatever may be relaxing for you. By doing this, you are improving your physiological response to stress!