Good Stress vs Bad Stress
What is the difference between good stress and bad stress?
Bad stress is the kind of stress that tips you over the edge. It’s the kind that makes you say, “I can’t go on like this anymore.”
Good stress is the kind of stress that enhances your abilities. It’s the kind that makes you feel a little bit on edge, making you perform at the top of your game.
Each person has their own unique line between “I’m performing at my best” and “I can’t go on.” That’s why the difference between good stress and bad stress is…. you. It is also why you are the only person who can decide whether you have too much stress.
Bad Stress is Just Plain Bad for Pregnancy
Bad stress is a major risk factor for anxiety and depression. Almost every study that has examined stress in pregnancy shows that high stress increases the chance of a pregnant woman developing depression and anxiety.
Bad Stress Can Make Depression and Anxiety in Pregnancy Worse
Bad stress also makes depression and anxiety symptoms worse. It also makes it harder to get depression and anxiety under control, and as a result they last longer.
4 Remedies for Bad Stress
The key to bad stress is dialling it back so that it becomes manageable. We can’t always control stressful situations in our lives. Here are four science-based ways that you can dial back your stress – even if you can’t change your situation.
- Exercise. Stationary biking, walking, running, and swimming at moderate levels are excellent for reducing stress. Combine exercise with being outdoors and you’ll boost the emotional benefits of exercise.
- Sleep 7-8 hours per night. Not getting enough sleep interferes with your ability to deal with stress. We’ve all had those days after we’ve had a bad night where we are less patient, more irritable, and more likely to have conflicts in our relationships. Plus, lack of sleep increases your chance of experiencing depression and anxiety. Make a habit of getting enough sleep while you’re pregnant, and after you have your baby make sleep a priority (over, for example, cleaning the house).
- Live from your upper brain. Living from your upper brain is one of the most effective ways that you can keep stress low. Here’s How to Keep Calm and Survive Your Pregnancy Brain.
- Practice mindfulness-based stress reduction. Mindfulness involves paying attention to your emotions, body, and surroundings. It helps you to stay “in the moment,” which tends to keep you from thinking (or fretting) about all the things you have to do or what the future holds. Not only do mindfulness interventions reduce stress, but they help you to be resilient, make better decisions, and improve your relationships. It’s not completely clear why mindfulness works, but some research suggests that we become more self-aware, and this self-understanding helps us to make better, more intentional decisions about how we live. Headspace is a free mindfulness app that we love because it’s easy, free, and fun, and it does a great job of teaching mindfulness.
The key to having an emotionally healthy pregnancy is not stress-elimination, but stress reduction. Use these tips to keep your stress below your personal line that divides “I’m performing at my best” and “I can’t go on.”