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Mental Health Stress Athlete Transition

Healthy Vs Unhealthy Stress

Posted on: 12 April 2023 by Mairead McErlean

April 2023 is Stress Awareness month; Stress can look and feel different for everyone. It is important that we learn how we individually cope with stress, what works for us, and what to avoid.


Healthy stress helps to motivate us and in sport can help to improve performance. It is important to be able to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy stress. 

Eustress- something stressful causes a positive response. e.g. motivation or improved performance

Distress- stress that leaves you exhausted, can have negative health effects and decreases concentration and performance in sport. 


Questions to differentiate Between Healthy and Unhealthy Stress?

1) Can you handle the challenge? 

If you have the skills and capacity to handle the situation then it is healthy stress, however, when the challenge outstretches your ability to deal with it, this becomes unhealthy stress. Will you be able to find a way through this?


2) Do you have control?

Our perceived control over the stressor will affect whether the stress is healthy or not. Unhealthy stress is caused when we have no control, but can be minimised if we can control the stressor and be solution focused. 


3) Is the stress Temporary?

If the stress becomes chronic and the same stressor keeps returning, its tends to be negative. This can be linked to health issues, so it is important you know how to manage your unhealthy stress. 



Managing Unhealthy Stress:

1) Find logical ways you can reduce the stress from your life

2) Get restful sleep, allowing for clearer thinking

3) Eat a healthy, balanced diet

4) Talk through the stressful factor with someone removed from the stressful environment

5) Talk to you supportive social network

6) Take time out to relax and practice mindfulness.


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