When can you know the difference between experiencing beneficial stress and harmful stress?
Last Updated: 06/29/2021 at 4:45pm
Hannah Caradonna, MSW, RCSW (RCC #11330)
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For me, beneficial stress is stress that helps me get things done, and harmful stress is stress that stops me from getting things done. If I find myself "paralyzed" by it as opposed to spurred into action by it, I know I need to change something.
Beneficial stress actually makes your bpdy more alert and is your natural reaction to what you instinctively know is going to require more attention and higher performance by you. Harmful stress does the opposite: it overloads you and hinders the way you function to a great extent.
I think you can easily know that by reflecting on how they affect you. In case, it is what you have called the "beneficial" stress, you will feel anxious, but you'd know that you can handle it. You'll perform well in the task as well. However, as soon as the situation goes out of hand, where you're not able to derive any positive emotion, the stress becomes harmful.
I like to think that beneficial stress is the stress that pushes you to write your paper in one night. But harmful stress is maladaptive, so it interrupts your functioning and daily activity such as being too stressed to complete homework, go to work, etc.
If you're experiencing beneficial stress, you'll most likely feel motivated to work hard and do well to meet your deadline etc. If you're experiencing harmful stress, it will most likely make you feel worried that you're not working hard enough. Typically people experiencing harmful stress will feel less motivated and burned out, will dread working and deadlines and feel hopeless or downtrodden when thinking about their workload or deadlines. You usually won't feel like you have enough time to sleep or relax if you're feeling harmful stress.
From what I've read, beneficial stress is something that motivates you to take action. An example would be a challenge that you really want to overcome, like a deadline or a competition. Harmful stress is something that counteracts your ability to overcome an obstacle. For example, you might stress over a deadline, and instead of thinking about finishing the project, you think about how it is impossible to finish, making you unable to finish it.
You are grateful and looking forward to the beneficial stress. Harmful stress feels like it's pulling you, instead.
Helpful stress is a sign that you care about something. It prompts you to study hard for the next test or remember your lines for the play you're in or rush to get there in time to pick up your kids. Or you're getting married and you're excited but at the same time you want everything to be "just right." That kind of stress is temporary. It goes away after you have completed the task. Bad stress doesn't go away; it keeps you up at night. It interferes with your ability to function, and it doesn't go away even after you've had some successes. Because it lasts a long time, it can lead to physical symptoms such as getting sick more often due to a weakened immune system, emotional irritability, insomnia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
If the stress is giving you the desire to shut down and ignore life then this is harmful stress. beneficial stress can be like school work, it will make your life better and help you obtain your degree.
quite easy...answer is within yourself. beneficial stress prompts you to work harder and more organized towards a higher goal, while harmful stress prevents you from performing even what should be routine.
Healthy stress is stress that motivates you. If you are faced with a problem or circumstance, instead of shutting down or using other unhealthy coping strategies, you rise to the challenge. If it is harmful, you deal with it in a bad manner, and this is method is different for everyone. Some people use alcohol, food, social isolation, excersise and other things to deal with those anxious feelings. So if you're faced with a stressful situation and you find your self trying to "numb" it, it might be unhealthy stress. The amount of stress a person can take varies from person to person… so comparing workloads of other people will only do more harm.
Beneficial stress makes you powerful and helps you being good at what you do. Harmful stress have negative impacts on your life (such as your sleep or the way you eat), and makes you feel vulnerable and less able to cope with some situations.
If the stress is chronic or long term and is affecting our ability to manage daily functions, make decisions and feel happiness, that may not be the beneficial stress. If the stress is helping us to prioritize and focus on getting our work done perhaps that would be beneficial.
When the stress takes over, it ruins your healthy habits, you lose too much or gain too much weight, you feel irritated by the smallest things all the time, you cry a lot more than you usually do, you feel mentally and emotionally exhausted and you're tired no matter how much sleep you get = harmful stress! Listen to yourself, listen to your body, don't take on too much work or do too much for other people if you haven't put yourself first at times.
Beneficial stress springs you into action. Harmful stress makes you feel stuck or frozen. If it doesn't help you accomplish something, it's probably harmful.
The difference between beneficial stress & harmful stress is all about how you find yourself responding to it. Beneficial stress will improve your performance or productivity, whereas harmful stress will overwhelm you & cause you to shut down.
Stress is a normal part of life--it's what makes us human. We all have roles in society, whether it is getting an education, going to work every day, etc. I usually find that after completing a task that really stressed me out, like a huge assignment, I feel very relieved and happy, and that could count as beneficial stress. Beneficial stress drives you to get things done. Harmful stress is when you start to feel emotionally/mentally impacted--sleeping to escape, feeling depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, etc.
Beneficial stress is stress that you have when you know u are learning something from what you are doing even though it is stressful. Harmful stress is stress that affects you mentally, physically & emotionally.
The difference between beneficial and harmful stress is that harmful stress doesn't come from something that can better you as an individual. Harmful stress is something that you don't see an end to
Stress is a way your body gets more energy, and mentally alert. When we were apes, and faced danger like for example lack of food, or an encounter with a wild animal we would get momentarily energized and overcome these obstacles at all costs. By searching for fruits or running away (respectively). However, in modern society this kind of stress is mostly prejudicial as we do face "danger" in everyday life but we are never in actual real danger. Imagine a college student who is overwhelmed by his work and is worried about his final exams. This stress is in fact counter productive, as it can have terrible long term consequences and even ruin this person's concentration, making it even harder to get a good scored on the tests. To put this simply, beneficial stress is something that literally saves your life, in life threatening situations, whereas prejudicial stress is something pointless, that makes you feel bad in the long term and may even cause depression.
If the stress is making you work harder to your goals and putting in the extra work to get a positive benefit. But harmful stress can lead to anxiety and make you worry constantly about your performance
Stress keeps us accountable for our actions. Beneficial stress can give us that push of motivation and inspires us to be our best self. However harmful stress can lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation, and may take a toll on the brain and body.
Beneficial Stress pushes you to move and get things done. Harmful Stress debilitates you and keeps you from doing anything which most likely compounds the stress mentally and physically
The biggest defining factor between beneficial stress and harmful stress is how it affects your individual growth. If your confused about what stress you're feeling, as yourself: "Is this stress going to get me anywhere? Or is it holding me back?" For example, having anxiety/stress about public speaking is beneficial stress. It is normal to be nervous, but the speech may land you a promotion and showcase your knowledge and skills. If you're in a job that is taking the life out of you and making you feel stuck or sick, that's harmful stress. Hopefully this helped. Best of luck!
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