I Stress, Eustress, We Stress

The first weekend in May I attended Hedgebrook’s Vortext Writers Workshop on Whidbey Island (off the coast of Seattle). Many of the breakout sessions took place at the Whidbey Institute, home to a giant gong—approximately six feet in diameter!

To stand in front of a gong that’s just been sounded—especially one this large—is an incredible experience! The vibration is deeply settling, while simultaneously euphoric.

In my experience, eustress is similar to the vibrational bath from a gong. Considered “good stress,” or stress from the anticipation, or experience, of pleasurable events, it envelopes us.

Eustress can share some physical symptoms with bad stress, such as a racing heart, but our body processes eustress as positive and releases endorphins, making us feel good.

Distress, or “bad stress” is associated with worry and anxiety, and it stems from concerns that your physical or emotional well-being is threatened. Distress can arise when you’re grieving, or more commonly when you’re having problems at your job or in your relationship. Your body processes distress in a negative way, and it can cause some nasty side effects, such as headaches, stomach problems, insomnia, and anxiety attacks.

Eustress or distress—what was your most recent encounter with stress?

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