Good vs. bad stress at work

How to recognize and change patterns that effect your physical and mental health

Eustress (a.k.a., Good Stress)

  • Promotion/increased responsibilities: Everyone enjoys being recognized for his/her accomplishments, and when a promotion or additional tasks are given to employees, there can be a mixture of emotions depending on the person’s current workload and personal/professional attitude.  In most cases a job title change, promotion or salary increase results in the good outweighing the bad.  Employees need to be assertive in communicating and clarifying personal feeling as well as supervisor expectations around new tasks.
  • Transition in the workplace: Although many people have fear of change, sometimes change is what keeps employees challenged and motivated.  Everyone needs a little change to keep it fresh!  Clear communication, transparency, and trust are key in making transitions positive and less stressful.

Distress (a.k.a., Bad Stress)

  • Techno stress: The overabundance of screens (computer, television, smartphone, tablet, etc.) can create “cerebral burnout” due to information overload.   Employees should take a break several times though out the day to allow the mind and eyes to rest.  Smartphones are a great resource for setting alarms for reminder breaks.  Getting up and moving around will not only refresh the mind but increase circulation in the body.  Research is now showing that standing up (even for brief periods of time throughout the day) versus sitting all day is a much healthier approach to our daily routine.  Another wonderful way to decrease mental activity is meditation, even if only for only a few minutes a day.
  • Unhealthy boundaries: We are now living in a world that operates 24/7 and, unfortunately, many employers expect employees to be “plugged in” constantly.  Employees need to set boundaries both at work and home in relationship to work/phone distractions.  Setting a schedule for “family time” and “work time” after hours may support those who have demanding jobs.
  • Insomnia: Lack of proper rest is a huge trend we see emerging in the workplace.  This can be a direct reflection of the previous two topics.  The following suggestions below will assist in getting better quality sleep:
    1. Create a routine every night before you go to bed.  Some examples include take a bath, read a book, or do some restorative yoga… all these help to wind down the mind and body.
    2. Minimize television, computer time, phone time at least one to two hours before you plan to sleep (screen time tends to activate or excite the mind).
    3. Make sure your sleep space is conducive for rest only.  No animals, television, extreme lighting or eating in your sleep space.  This space should be consider sacred and for resting only.


story by KELLY ANDREWS, Assistant Dean of Wellness at Florida Southern College

About the Author: Kelly Andrews represents Florida Southern College, a Vision Partner with Building a Healthier Polk, an initiative of Polk Vision.  For more information on the Building a Healthier Polk Initiative, visit us online at  You can also find us on Twitter at @HealthierPolk and on Facebook.

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