There is two types of stress. Distress (or bad stress) and eustress (or good stress). Yes, there is a specific name for good stress! Brock University website sums up eustress quite nicely.

“Eustress is the good stress that motivates you to continue working. Stress can be a motivater and provide incentive to get the job done. This “good stress” is what eustress can be identified as and some people enjoy it. Everyone needs a little bit of stress in their life in order to continue to be happy, motivated, challenged and productive. It is when this stress is no longer tolerable and/or manageable that distress comes in.” Link to article

Stress in itself isn’t bad! Just as to make a muscle stronger you have to put it to work under tension, you to become stronger by being under a little stress. But it just how we deal with stress and how much that we have to deal with it that can make it bad. But if you are like me, dealing with stress can become overwhelming at points.

My big problem when dealing with stress is I get stressed easily over the littlest thing. Whoever created the saying “turning a mole hill into a mountain” knows exactly what I am talking about. Even with things that I have no control over can cause me to feel uneasy. (Part of why I say that stress is a cause of my IBS.) Needless to say that always turning to “worst case scenario” doesn’t do me any favours in real life. The only good thing about distress: you learn which coping strategies actually work for you. While I am still in the process of learning how to see mole hills as mole hills and not mountains, I have found a few things in life that help deal with distress. (And it even turns into eustress sometimes!)

In no particular order:

1. Talk to someone: Getting a second opinion can shed a ton of light on the current situation. Whether it is to rant about a work condition, talk through money trouble, or to be told that “no, you don’t look like a boy with that hair cut” (true story!), having a trusted person in your life to chat about everyday life is amazing. And every once in a while, return the favour!

2. Do something physical: Going for a run/walk/yoga class can do wonders to clear things up. Plus the endorphins are a giant plus! Whether it gives you time to work things out while getting in your 30 minutes a day or let you turn off your brain and focus on something else for a short period of time (Pilates anyone?), exercise has to many benefits not to use it to help deal with distress. Exercise in itself is an eustress, which is what we are looking for anyways.

3. Clean house: When life feels out of control and messy, having a clean space around you can be a saving grace. Not sure why, but something about an organized environment can help ease my mind and make all my mental craziness seem less crazy. And the bonus: a clean house! (Pretty sure my partner thinks pretty highly of this technique.)

4. Have a shower: Similar to a clean house, a clean body can at least make you physically feel better. Plus it is almost like a reset for the day, a chance to start over from the beginning. Because problems do seem more manageable with clean hair and freshly shaved legs. Further if you are feeling under the weather, a hot steamy shower can do wonders for the airways. Ahhhh!

5. A hot cup of tea: As Sheldon Cooper will point out “Social protocol dictates that when a friend is upset, you offer them a hot beverage such as tea.” While tea may not solve life problems, it is surprisingly comforting and soothing. And a quick search of google shows that there may be real research to back up this statement too!

6. Puppy cuddles: The one person who is always happy to see you: your dog. My dog is a total cuddle pup which is perfect on stressful days. Because how can you be upset when a dog is excited just for you coming home? This is such a great idea that many universities have tested out “puppy rooms” during exam time to help students relieve stress while writing finals. So hug your dog, go for a walk with your friends hound, or visit a local shelter to give some beautiful pups some love.

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“I’m here and ready to listen Mom! Especially if you have treats!” 

What about you? What are some of your favourite ways to deal with distress?

Happy destressing!
-SB

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