Positive & negative stress

Positive & negative stress

Stress is the experience of “being subjected to physical, mental or emotional strain in response to real or imagined stimuli”.

Positive stress

Positive Stress is experienced when a stressor leads to an improvement in your overall performance and productivity. Positive stress is usually the outcome of a positive attitude towards a stressor (being proactive), good time management practices, and effective prioritising of one’s activities (putting first things first). Good news, or an unexpected benefit, can also cause a positive stress experience. Experiencing positive stress leads to several benefits which include:

  • Increased Creativity: Not only are you able to make or develop things, you are also able to think of new or more effective methods for completing tasks.
  • Higher Productivity: You are able to complete more tasks at work, and participate in more activities in your personal life.
  • Improved Self-Esteem: You generally feel good about yourself, and happy with the life that you are leading.
  • Better Health: Positive stress stimulates your immune system to operate optimally, meaning that you are less likely to become ill.

Whilst positive stress has excellent benefits for your life, it is important to note that positive stress depletes the body’s reserves just as much as negative stress does. Over-exposing yourself to positive stressors without effectively managing your stress, can transform positive stress into negative stress, thereby inducing exhaustion.

Negative stress

Normally, stress coaxes the best performance out of a person. However, should your stress threshold be exceeded, one becomes over-stressed, and the outcome is that your overall performance and productivity becomes impaired or completely debilitated: this is known as a Negative Stress experience. Negative stress is usually the outcome of a poor attitude towards a stressor (being reactive), poor time management practices, and failing to prioritise one’s activities. Sometimes, traumatic events can also lead to the experience of negative stress.

Because you are over-stressed, your body’s ability to cope with the stressor becomes depleted at a much faster rate. This leads to an early onset of exhaustion – often before you are able to successfully resolve a stressful situation.


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