In order to know joy, we must feel stress. Imagine seeing your grandchild for the first time and not becoming very excited. Your heart beats wildly, your emotions surge (your adrenalin is definitely flowing) but because it’s a pleasant reaction, it’s not labelled as a stress reaction. Yet it is. When you go to watch your favourite hockey team play, the adrenalin flows. And depending on whether your team scores or the other team scores, your body knows joy or your body knows disappointment. Either way, your arousal rate is very high, your system is pumping out chemicals like adrenalin.
Good stress is the excitement you feel when it’s Christmas morning, or you see your grandchild perform in a concert, or you get a call unexpectedly from a dear friend, or your team wins, or you win at bingo, or you hear a golden oldie on the radio that fills you with cherished memories. These are positive healing stresses. They do your body good.
You need some stress to get up in the morning, it is critical to feeling motivated and interested in getting on with your life. Like bad stress, good stress, called eustress, also gets the heart pumping, increases your breathing rate, makes you perspire more and causes chemicals reactions through-out your system.
The big difference is in the type of chemicals you produce when you are excited and happy - verses being excited and apprehensive or unhappy. When we are in a “good” stress situation, you get a kind of “runners high” type of chemical cocktail. Lovely chemicals like endorphin, serotonin and dopamine are produced by our bodies and do all sorts of good things for our systems. They act almost like antidotes to the bad stress chemicals. Stress management can teach you how to change from the bad to the good type.