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Stress: Definition and Impact on Overall Health

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Stress is a response that affects the physical and psychological state of the body. Learn about the definition and impact of stress on health, the different types of stress including eustress and distress, and take a closer look at the fight or flight response. Updated: 10/05/2021

Types of Stress

At the end of this lesson, you'll be taking a quiz about the things we're about to go over. That quiz is almost certainly going to cause you a little bit of stress. Hopefully, only a little bit. But some stress may be good for you, while other types of stress might be bad. Let's find out how, why, and what in the world stress is anyways.

Stress is the psychological and physiological response to any real or imagined disruptions, demands, stimulations, or changes in life. Bad stress, stress that occurs as a result of unpleasant events and lowers the quality of life, is known as distress. This is in contrast to eustress, good stress, stress that enhances a person's quality of life. 'Distress is set to Depress, but eUstress can bring yoU sUccess.' You'll find out why in just a bit.

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  • 0:01 Types of Stress
  • 0:57 Eustress
  • 2:06 Distress
  • 3:01 Fight or Flight
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Eustress in Detail

More than likely, you may be a bit skeptical about stress being good since we all constantly hear how it's bad for us, but this isn't always so. For example, eustress can result from:

  • Participating in a ball game you love
  • Anticipating a drop in a roller coaster ride you enjoy
  • Falling in love with someone
  • Having a child
  • Getting married

Basically, eustress comes from participating in or anticipating a pleasurable experience. Eustress can feel exciting and improves our performance and motivation. Starting a new job may be stressful, but eustress can give you a feeling of wanting to succeed, impress, and will motivate you to do better.

Eustress is a manageable type of stress and doesn't overwhelm you or last long like some types of distress. Too little eustress and you might be bored; too much eustress and you may be endangering your health like adrenaline junkies might when seeking out this pleasurable form of stress by doing stuff like skydiving and base jumping over and over again.

Distress in Detail

Distress, as you can by now only imagine, comes from being embroiled in or anticipating unpleasant things. Things like:

  • A close person's death
  • Loss of a job
  • Legal or financial difficulties
  • Injury or abuse

Unlike eustress, this stress:

  • Causes anxiety and is, thus, unpleasant
  • Leads someone to feel as if they are overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Decreases a person's performance in things like work or life in general
  • Might lead to mental and physical health problems
  • May be short or long-term

Distress, especially over the long-term, can lead to a ton of mental and physical health problems I just alluded to. The details of that will be discussed more so in another lesson, but they include things like heart problems and sleep disorders.

Fight or Flight

Now, even a potentially unpleasant event that causes distress may not be a bad thing in the short-term. One notable example of this is the fight or flight response, our response to stress that makes the body prepare to confront or avoid a situation.

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