‘It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it’.

                                                                                                                – Hans Selye

In today’s fast-paced world, almost everyone experiences stress. Stress can often be an overwhelming experience, so many people see stress in a very negative light. It is also considered unhealthy in many ways. However, not all stress is bad or negative, sometimes it can be beneficial as well. In this article, we’ll take a look at both the positive and negative sides of stress. 

Understanding Stress

Simply put, stress is our body’s reaction to any form of change, inducing physical, emotional, or psychological strain. Stress is how our body reacts to situations that demand attention or prompt action. For example: the pressure to finish three large projects by the end of the day. 

There are two main categories of stress:. They are:

Eustress: A positive form of stress that motivates us to take action  It enables us to overcome challenges (For ex- Stress during life events such as marriage, childbirth, etc.)

Distress- A negative form of stress that causes unpleasant feelings such as anxiety and is beyond our coping abilities (Ex- relationship conflicts, job loss, etc)

Can Stress Be Beneficial?

As we discussed before, even though ‘stress’ is considered unhealthy by most people, it is not entirely bad for us. In fact, moderate levels of stress can be beneficial for us in several ways, such as:

  • It Helps Enhance Our Performance

At a suitable level, stress can optimize performance by providing a brief energy boost, increasing productivity and efficiency To understand this further, let’s imagine a student who wants to finish his assignment within a deadline. Without stress, the student is likely to procrastinate, whereas the right amount of stress can motivate the student to take action by creating feelings of urgency.

  • Stress Makes Us Alert

Stress triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline, which can boost our energy and our overall level of focus and alertness. Alertness can help us become more aware of the situation around us. This kind of awareness is very important in situations where we need to take quick action. 

  • Stress Can Help Build Resilience

Resilience is our ability to cope with difficult situations. Facing stressful situations helps us know and challenge our limits. Successfully overcoming stressful situations increases our confidence in handling similar situations in the future, leading to personal growth and resilience.

The Dark Side Of Stress

While moderate stress is beneficial, extremely high levels of stress can be detrimental to our mental and physical health in the long term. Some side effects of chronic stress include:

  • Reduced Physical Health

Long-term stress can be severely damaging to our physical health. It can cause problems such as upset stomachs, headaches, fatigue, etc. At the same time, it can also weaken our immunity and make us more susceptible to diseases. Research has shown that stress contributes to the development of heart problems in people

  • Effects On Mood

Stress can significantly impact mood by triggering various emotional responses. Elevated stress levels often contribute to feelings of irritability, anxiety, or sadness. Long-term stress can also put people at risk of depression and anxiety disorders.

  • Burnout

Long-term exposure to stress can lead to burnout. Burnout is a state where the body’s resources are completely depleted and it has reached a point of exhaustion. Burnout can be harmful to the mental and physical health of people, and recovering from burnout may take a few weeks or even a few months.

Conclusion: Moving Towards Balance

In summary, stress can have both positive and negative outcomes for us. While moderate stress can help us be more alert and take action in challenging situations, extreme levels of stress can cause demotivation and contribute to lowered immunity, low mood and other mental and physical health issues. Thus, the key is to find the right balance by incorporating healthy stress management techniques into our daily lives. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and self-care are some ways to manage stress effectively


  1. 4 Ways Stress Makes You More Productive, and 1 Way It Blocks You  | Inc.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.inc.com/john-brandon/4-ways-stress-will-motivate-you-and-1-way-it-wont.html
  2. How Is Stress Affecting My Health? (n.d.). Verywell Mind. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-health-3145086
  3. How stress can be good for you. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.robertwalters.be/insights/career-advice/blog/why-stress-is-good-for-your-career.html
  4. Risk Factors for Heart Disease: Don’t Underestimate Stress. (2021, November 3). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/risk-factors-for-heart-disease-dont-underestimate-stress
  5. The Effects of Stress on Your Body. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/effects-of-stress-on-your-body
Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin