The Gripping Agent of the World: Stress

Ryan Modafe

January 19, 2024

Stress is a major component of every single human being’s life. It controls the most overwhelming responses individuals have in their daily lives and can be a source of strength or misery for many. Generally, stress is viewed as a negative aspect of peoples' lives which they aim to eradicate from their daily routines. People complain about how constantly they are “stressed” and “overworked” or “feeling crunched.” Conversely, what’s not mentioned so often is the fact that stress should be embraced rather than vilified to appropriately deal with the challenges of life.

Negative stress is important to avoid as much as possible in one's life to maintain a positive state of mental health and not be forced to endure the physical struggles and health issues many with negative stress develop. Negative stress is a type of stress that generates an overstimulated response to the body’s sense of threat and puts the body into a state of hyper-awareness, priming the muscles as if ready to escape a fatal threat. This is why prolonged periods of negative stress can have severely consequential effects on longevity. Muscle tension, pain, and cardiovascular disease are only a few parts of a large list of risks associated with negative stress. As a result of these strains, the body has little time to rest and lies in a constant state of overdriven activity which may lead to an inability for natural regeneration to take place. The continual state of fatigue can seep its way into emotional problems as well and create a general state of depression.

On the contrary, positive stress, also known as eustress, can act as a tool to energize individuals and keep them primed just enough to be ready for the task at hand. A great volume of stress is severely detrimental to activities such as artistic performance, but a moderate amount of stress can conjure a sense of focus and part the clouds of a foggy mind, keeping an individual sharp and in control. It is imperative not to allow stress to affect other parts of life because if harbored for too long, it can lead to disastrous consequences as outlined previously. Eustress, on the other hand, acts as a motivating agent to elevate an individual to the task at hand and has a range of benefits provided it stays within the healthy stress range. 

Ultimately, stress will always be a major factor in the lives of all people. It is important to be able to harness it rather than to allow it to overwhelm one to be successful and live a healthy and happy life.