Understanding the Brain


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Eustress is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye which is defined in the model of Richard Lazarus (1974) as stress that is healthy, or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings. Eustress is a process of exploring potential gains.


The word eustress consists of two parts. The prefix eu- derives from the Greek word meaning either "well" or "good". When attached to the word stress, it literally means "good stress".


The term eustress was first used by endocrinologist Hans Selye in 1975, when he published a model dividing stress into two major categories: eustress and distress.[1] This article was an expansion on an earlier article he wrote, where he discussed the idea of a General Adaptation Syndrome, or a system of how the body responds to stress.[2]

In his 1975 article, Selye talked about how persistent stress that is not resolved through coping or adaptation, deemed distress, may lead to anxiety or withdrawal (depression) behavior. In contrast, if the stress involved enhances function (physical or mental, such as through strength training or challenging work) it may be considered eustress.

Compared with distress

Distress is the most commonly-referred to type of stress, having negative implications, whereas eustress is a positive form of stress, usually related to desirable events in a person's life. Both can be equally taxing on the body, and are cumulative in nature, depending on a person's way of adapting to a change that has caused it. The body itself cannot physically discern between distress or eustress.[3]


Winning an athletic competition is an example of eustress.

See also


  1. Selye (1975). "Confusion and controversy in the stress field". Journal of Human Stress 1: 37–44. 
  2. Seyle, Hans (1936). "A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents". Nature 138 (3479): 32. doi:10.1038/138032a0. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v138/n3479/pdf/138032a0.pdf. 
  3. J. Kabat-Zinn. Full catastrophe living - how to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation. (1996)

External links