9 Real-Life Examples of Eustress: Stress You May Need MORE of!

Eustress shown by strong happy woman with raised arm and fist on red background

Usually when we use the word ‘stress’, what we really mean is so-called ‘bad’ stress or DIStress. But did you know there’s a word for ‘good’ stress? In this article we explore the origins of eustress, healthy examples of eustress, how it builds resilience and more.

In this article with healthy examples of eustress:

Where the word Eustress comes from

The word eustress, pronounced YOU-stress, was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye who studied the impact of stress on the mind and body. He added the prefix eu- (from the Greek meaning well or good) to convey the idea of “healthy” stress.

So, what is Eustress?

Eustress is ‘beneficial’ or ‘healthy’ stress. It’s an amount of stress that we find manageable—and that helps us learn, grow, achieve and succeed.

According to the publishers of Oxford’s English Dictionaries, Eustress is “moderate or normal psychological stress, interpreted as being beneficial.”

It’s important to note however, that as each of us is unique, what may be experienced as eustress for one person may be stressful for another. And may even be enjoyable excitement for someone else!

What Eustress feels like

You likely experience eustress when you feel:

  • Eager, excited, thrilled or in a state of flow
  • Resilient, determined
  • Proud, fulfilled

A helpful analogy: eustress reminds me of yoga!

The origins of the word stress are in part a shortening of the word distress (based on the Latin for “stretch apart”). Of course, no-one wants to be stretched apart, but this made me think of the practice of Yoga:

Yoga is about strengthening. When practicing yoga we stretch our body and muscles consciously, with attention to how it feels. We don’t take it too far, instead we work to consciously and gradually increase our muscle’s abilities to extend and hold—and become stronger in the process.

How Eustress fuels our successes and achievements

A certain amount of stress is ESSENTIAL to growth and resilience. Dr. Irena O’Brien (neuroscientist)

Eustress is what helps us deal with excitement and/or challenges in our lives. Here’s how:

1) In the short term

In the short term, eustress provides us with an energy boost to perform challenging activities—especially where we need to focus and put in extra effort.

Examples include playing competitive sport, public speaking or a job interview.

2) In the long term

In the longer term, eustress gives us energy and strength to help us keep working at things—especially when the going gets tough.

Examples could include learning a new language, getting on with our lives after a rejection or keeping on studying when we’d really rather give up!

Eustress grows our confidence and self-esteem

It’s eustress that helps us achieve things of meaning and value to us.

Because when we achieve goals and overcome obstacles we feel better about ourselves: we grow in both confidence and self-esteem.

And this is why, when people stay in their comfort zones they don’t grow—because they’re avoiding all forms of stress including healthy eustress.

Eustress also gets us through tough times

Distressing and tough circumstances can also lead us to experience healthy eustress—but only if we take care of ourselves and consciously make the time to reflect, learn and grow from it.

How do we do this? Well, when we’re gentle with ourselves and process what happened, we learn that we can cope with difficult situations. And this helps us develop greater strength, determination and courage to use in the future.

Here are 9 Healthy Real-Life Examples of Eustress in Action

So, where could you do with more healthy stress in your life? Here are some eustress examples to consider:

  1. Getting to know someone we really like whether it’s a new friend, colleague or romantic interest. Eustress gives us the boost we need to keep pushing through the awkwardness.
  2. Studying over a period of time. Eustress sustains us as we work towards a new qualification or skill, especially when we may find it tough and want to give up.
  3. Travelling. Eustress helps us adapt when we have to get out of our routines and comfort zones. This is especially true when we travel to a foreign country and experience different foods, customs, language/s, scenery and more.
  4. Networking and connecting with others. Eustress helps us stay on our toes when we meet lots of new people at once, whether it’s showing ourselves and what we do to a larger world, or joining a new group or community.
  5. Playing competitive sports—or a fitness activity. Eustress helps us perform better in the moment AND also to improve ourselves by staying committed to our exercise routine even when we may not feel like it.
  6. Working towards big goals or events. Whether it’s getting married, having a baby, getting a new job or promotion, eustress is the fuel that keeps you going when the going gets tough.
  7. Developing new skills. Eustress helps especially when we have to practice to improve and work through the awkward beginner’s stage eg. learning a new hobby, language or sport.
  8. Getting over a loss or rejection. Whether it’s a job, relationship or some other opportunity, eustress sustains us and helps us learn and grow as individuals—and stay positive to find that silver lining.
  9. Going deep with personal development. This is especially relevant for coaching and therapy. It’s eustress that helps people keep working on themselves and turning up for coaching and counselling sessions even when the going gets tough…
Turn your Stress into Healthy Eustress!

Here are some questions for you to consider and/or journal around:Hand with Butterflies

  • Where might eustress be playing a role in your life right now?
  • If you have a competitive or potentially stressful event coming up:
    • How could you reframe this as something positive?
    • What are the good and great things that could or will come out from it?
    • What parts of it are enjoyable? And how could you focus on those more?
    • What help or support could you ask for or allow yourself?
    • What could you do differently to make it easier or more fun?
  • If you are working towards a long term or big goal or project:
    • How could you refocus on the positive and consciously sustain yourself?
    • What are all the benefits of your goal or project? What will be different in your life?
    • How will you feel when it’s complete?
    • Where could you take better care of yourself during the process?
    • What fears, feelings or thoughts need kindness and acknowledgement?
    • What adjustments could you make so that the experience is more enjoyable, yet you are still moving forwards? For example, how could you chunk it down, slow down, make it for fun, get help or delegate?
  • If you’re going through a tough time:
    • How could you reframe your DIStress into more positive and helpful EUstress?
    • What are you learning/have you learned?
    • What challenges have you overcome? Where should you be proud of yourself?
    • Where could you be more kind to yourself?
    • What help or support do you want or need? And how could you ask for/get that?
  • As you look ahead in your life, what opportunities are there for you to reframe your response to challenges and difficult situations as eustress?

Wrap-upFierce Kindness Logo

Any time we are out of our comfort zones working towards something bigger or being challenged in a good way, eustress is at work.

In short eustress fuels resilience and achievement. Without situations that create eustress, our lives would be pretty dull—and we wouldn’t grow much.

Your brain is designed for stress. In fact, stress actually changes the shape and function of your brain. And the right kind of stress helps you build long-term cognitive agility and resilience. Dr. Irena O’Brien (neuroscientist)

The important thing is that how we react to a situation, our thoughts and how we treat ourselves are key in determining whether we experience distress or healthy eustress.

Which means that with (self-)care, thought and reflection we can turn something unpleasantly stressful into a positive.

IMPORTANT: Don’t just slap a smile on challenging, difficult or traumatic situations and call it eustress! Please seek help if your stress is overwhelming. And be aware that if something was traumatic, or you can’t stop thinking about it, you may need or want counselling or coaching to process your feelings, heal and move forwards.
Change the world. Start with you!

If you liked this article about Eustress, you may also like:

Image of Excited person with raised arm and fist experiencing eustress by Kraken Images


    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      Hi Wendy,
      I love that! That’s turning Stress into Eustress for sure. In fact that is what I have been calling my hunt for a new home (in a difficult housing market)—an adventure. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. And sometimes it puts a big smile on my face as I remember how lucky I am to even own a house and be able to live somewhere I love.
      Adventures always have trials and tribulations—this too shall pass 🙂
      Emma-Louise x

  1. Lynda Monk

    Hi Emma, great article! I also love the suggested reflective or journal prompts. I am going to journal with the long-term goal prompts you offered today in service to some of my dreaming and visioning for the IAJW at this time and into the future. Thanks for all you do and share. L x

    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      Dear Lynda, thank-you for taking the time to comment on this article about Eustress 🙂 And I’m so glad you found the journaling prompts helpful!
      Healthy eustress is headed your way!
      Warmly, Emma-Louise


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