It’s not what you may think.

Stress is a necessary part of our life, without it we can not grow, without it we can not change, but paradoxically too much an we risk harm. See it like FOOD, we need it but too much of anything can be unhealthy and FOOD comes in many varieties from better to worse.

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”

– Bruce Lee

So how can one recognise the good the bad and the ugly and how do with deal with that information?

What is stress?

Stress as anything that alters our homeostasis (bodily responses ), for better or for worse.

What is better stress?

“Better stress”, referred to as “eustress”, is the type of stress we feel when we are excited.  Our pulse quickens, our hormones change, but there is no threat or fear.  We feel this type of stress when we ride a roller coaster or go on a first date.  There are many triggers for this good stress and it keeps us feeling alive and excited about life. 

What is worse stress?

“Worse stress”, is “acute stress”.  It comes from quick surprises that need a response.  Acute stress in itself doesn’t take a heavy toll if we find ways to relax quickly.  Once the stressor has been dealt with, we need to return our body to homeostasis, or its pre-stress state, to be healthy and happy. 

When is stress really harmful?

When acute stress is consistently repeated, reinforced and not recovered from one finds them self in a state of “chronic stress”   A stressful job/class or an unhappy home life can bring chronic stress.  Our bodies aren’t designed for chronic stress, resulting in potential negative health effects both physically and emotionally.

The “obvious” bit…

When we know about the different types of stress, it makes sense to get more good stress into our life.  Choose activities that make you feel good, happy and excited about life and cut out activities that drain us. A good way to gauge whether or not an activity is worth your time is to pay attention to how the thought of it makes you feel. Do you feel excited at the thought?  Is it a “‘want to” activity, or a “have to” activity?  Be sure your “want to” activities are all things you really want to do, and your “have to” activities are all absolutely necessary.

The ‘but’ bit…

It’s easy to state what “should” happen but until you are in place to accept change is required, until you are in a place to acknowledge change does not have to be overwhelming, until you can accept change is not a defamation of character but a self acceptance for growth, until you are in a place to recognise change can start with a single habit or action – you will always have buts…

Little steps…

  • Write what causes you “good stress”’ and ”bad stress” in your life 
  • What are some things that may cause acute stress but are a necessity 
  • What things cause you acute stress that you can cut out of your life 
  • What can you say “no” to so that you can say “yes” to other aspects of your life that give you that “good stress”


If you can not cut out on some of the acute stress – where do you create time to recover? What are you doing to reenergise and be in a place to tackle the issue that is so important to you.

One place to start would be sleep…

Habitual is a health coaching company working with private clients, schools, corporations and sports teams to develop sustainable habits for lasting health change.

Chris Garvey
Founder and CEO – Habitual

Chris is the Founder and CEO. A health coach with a background in teaching, education and high performance sport. Qualified in sports science, education and psychology. A former International rugby coach, teacher of 16 years,  Ironman, ultra spartan athlete, author of the ebook when life happens and public speaker.

References (2019). LIFE APP: Making health a habit.

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