This time of year there is a lot going on with end-of-summer vacations, children going back to school, some leaving for college, and the gears that must shift as we head into late summer/early fall.
Eustress is beneficial stress, the body’s positive response to something that is healthy or gives you the feeling of fulfillment. It has to do with the way a stressor, like sending your child off to school for the first time, is perceived. Generally, it is short term in nature and feels exciting, the opposite of distress, which causes anxiety and can be outside of our coping abilities.
Other examples that can result in eustress are wedding planning, moving to a desired new home or location, or starting a new job. All of these things an deliver distress as well, but it the difference is in the way you frame or perceive the situation in your own mind.
Currently we are in the process of searching for a place to live, and believe me it is a big dose of both! After spending the day looking at dozens of houses, the fact is brought home (pun intended) that there is no perfect solution, no perfect floor plan, no perfect location, and certainly no perfect price! It is a process filled with compromise and trade offs.
I watched my daughter go through a similar process when selecting the dorm she wanted to live in at her university, and found myself somewhat concerned about how she was going to feed herself. She is a vegetarian, and she calmly assured us that there is a grocery store “just three miles away.” That would be on foot or via public transportation, wedged into an incredibly busy academic schedule! And who knows what state of sanitation one may find in the dorm kitchens! See my distress?
Instead, I dredge up my inner Buddha, let go of the worry, and consider the fact that she is quite a good cook, is very intent on eating healthy meals, and deliberately chose this dorm due to the carefully researched culture of cooking and sharing meals she discovered in this dorm. Hello…eustress!
Saying goodbye to a competent, kind, intelligent child is tough, but I know she will figure things out. Meanwhile, I assure myself that it is quite normal to at times feel both distress and eustress over the big life changing events we all go through. Embracing them and having faith in a person’s previous behavior, the absolute best predictor of their future behavior, is a choice your can make. Then plan accordingly.