can-be-stress-angel-and-devilGuest article Picture©master1305 - iStockphoto

Can stress be angel and devil?

Have you ever noticed that we speak of stress mostly in a negative sense? But time and again we also talk about positive stress, so-called Eustress ("Eu" Greek for good) spoken. Examples of eustress should be events such as a wedding, the anticipation of an upcoming event or sports.

On the other hand, negative stress or even Distress spoken ("dis", Latin = bad, Latin). Examples of this in today's society would be the permanent accessibility or overstraining by Digitization. But also insecure working conditions, fear of the future or overburdening by e.g. child and job cause distress.

But is that really so? And what does that mean for us? Is this distinction timely? Should "distress" be reduced and "eustress" increased if possible? Does only the "distress" make you sick and the "eustress" make you well?

First of all, it should be noted that Stress always individual is. Both the factors that trigger stress (stressors) and the stress sensations or reactions to stress. Everyone perceives things differently and evaluates them differently. Accordingly, there are Factors that mean positive stress for one person and negative stress for another.

The differences

The perceived positive or negative stress is accompanied by different feelings. Eustress, for example, is usually not perceived as a burden. Feelings like pride, (pre-)joy or devotion and passion occur. On the other hand, distress is usually perceived as a burden. It can be accompanied by feelings such as fear, uncertainty or exhaustion. One can therefore state that Stress can be divided into positive and negative stress on the emotional / psychological level.

However, the situation is different on the physical or biochemical level. On the stress side, hardly any distinction is made between eu- and distress. The same processes take place in the body, as the stressor stimulates the production of various hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol). This means, no matter whether I am happy and under stress or under tension and pressure - the stress hormones are released in a similar way and affect the body - one way or another.

However, other hormones such as serotonin, endorphin or dopamine are added to eustress, which in our case elicit happiness and are responsible for the well-being and similar feelings. However, dopamine, for example, also has a driving effect again. So also here the activity in the body is increased. Of course this feels good.

But we will hardly regenerate here either. Only the serotonin helps us to get back into a certain regeneration. So it can be said that stress also remains stress if you look at it on a physical and biochemical level. Permanent stress (no matter whether on a psychological/ emotional level perceived as positive or negative) can damage our body.

For us, this means that stress, whether we perceive it as positive on an emotional level, can damage the body and make us ill. Long lasting stress situations should therefore always be Relaxation & regeneration phases can be buffered. It is irrelevant whether the stress is perceived as positive or negative.

Recognise stress

But how do I find out what is stressing me and whether I am stressed at all? What shows me if and when it makes sense to include regeneration times? How important is it for my organism to build in regeneration times?

Science has now found many different ways to do this. On the one hand, we have the option to use classical via questionnaires that ask for specific symptomsto determine whether we are subjectively burdened or not. For example, the following should be mentioned here Maßlach Burnout Inventorywhich has been established for decades and queries the emotional stress level.

In a different way, medical measurement methods are trying to identify stress symptoms. By collecting various parameters, it can be shown how stressed a person is. For this purpose, so-called Biomarker. In other words, substances that have been shown in research to behave in certain ways under stress conditions. Examples are DHEA, cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline or dopamine.

With a Heart rate variability measurement and a diary that is also kept, it can be shown which activities show a high degree of stress and where regeneration phases are needed. If you are interested, please contact us at

Whether stress is harmful or not depends primarily on the dose and duration - less on whether it is positive or negative! With this in mind, we wish you a relaxing time and lots of regeneration.

This article is a guest contribution from


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