Did you know there is good and bad stress?
Stress is often associated with negative events and feelings, but did you know positive things can trigger stress as well?
“There is definitely both good and bad stress,” says Dr. Brittany Lakin-Starr, a psychologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “While we can easily recognize bad stress like work deadlines, caring for aging parents or getting a divorce, we do not always identify positive events like a new relationship, a new baby or a promotion as stressful, even though they can be.”
Unmanaged stress can also lead to both physical and psychological problems that could affect your overall health and lead to conditions like anxiety, depression and burnout.
“Everyone experiences stress from time to time, but chronic stress can have negative health effects,” says Dr. Lakin-Starr. “Research shows that stress can make us sick. One study found that when subjects were given a nasal wash that contained a cold virus, people who reported higher levels of stress were more likely to develop a cold. Another study concluded couples with more marital conflict had poorer immune function.”
To help manage and reduce both good and bad stress, Dr. Lakin-Starr recommends:
- Reaching out to friends
- Getting adequate sleep and exercise
- Trying mindfulness practices
- Making time to relax and have fun
- Asking for help with big projects
- Remembering to laugh
“If the stress begins to affect your day-to-day functioning and you find yourself feeling anxious, overwhelmed or struggling to concentrate, talking to a psychologist can be helpful,” says Dr. Lakin-Starr. “Therapy can help you identify what is causing your stress, learn new coping skills to manage it and get back to living your life.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.