Stress: The Good, the Bad, and the Fixable!

Stress has become a larger part of our lives these days. While some stress can be considered normal, and even important, excessive stress can be extremely damaging to our physical and mental health. But it is something we can learn to manage.

The good stress we experience, also called eustress, helps us to meet daily challenges and drives us to achieve goals that often make us healthier and happier. This is the stress that motivates us, feels exciting, and makes our pulse quicken—but without threat or fear. It is what we feel when we’re on a roller coaster, competing in an athletic event, going on a job interview, or even trying something for the first time. It can help focus our energy and improve our performance. It is short-term and related to the activity at hand.

Bad stress, especially long term, is the type of stress that wears us out, both physically and mentally. Also called distress, it can often lead to anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion and cognitive problems. The impact of bad stress on brain health can be significant, affecting how our memories are formed. Creating short-term memories and then turning them into long-term ones is hampered when we are distressed. Additionally, retrieving memories during these types of stressful times can color our perception of those older experiences. More importantly, distress has been shown to contribute to memory loss.

‘Fixing’ Bad Stress

Much of the bad stress we experience can be addressed through management techniques that help us identify the triggers and stressors in our lives, so that we can take active steps to reduce its ill effects. Here are just a few healthy changes we can make in our daily lives to reduce stress and bring joy:

  • Consistent sleep
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Social connections
  • Learn something new

By taking steps now to reduce chronic stress, you can begin to live your best life. You’ll find more information and tips on the Sharp Again website and YouTube channel, including:

Stress, Trauma and Brain Health webinar

Awaken & Energize Weekly Meditation

Beginner’s Mind: The Benefits of New Learning in Later Life

Visit www.sharpagain.org to learn explore the many resources and programs we offer to preserve memories and restore minds.

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