Stress – What It Is and Why It Matters

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become an inevitable part of our lives. From work to personal relationships, we all face different types of stress daily. While stress can sometimes motivate us to perform better, excessive stress can negatively impact our mental and physical health, leading to burnout, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, it’s crucial to discern between “good stress” and “bad stress” and develop stress tolerance and the ability to cope effectively and efficiently.

Moderate chronic stress can be beneficial.

While chronic stress can have numerous adverse health effects, some surprising benefits can come from experiencing stress in moderation. This is referred to as eustress, a type of stress often referred to as “good stress” or “positive stress.” Unlike negative stress or distress, which can harm our mental and physical health, eustress is the type of stress we experience when facing a challenge or opportunity that we find exciting, energizing, or motivating. Eustress can come from various sources, such as starting a new job, taking on a challenging project, or even engaging in physical exercise. While eustress can still be a source of physiological arousal and may feel uncomfortable at times, it is typically accompanied by feelings of excitement and anticipation rather than feelings of anxiety or dread. Eustress can help us build resilience and adapt to new situations, which can be essential to personal growth and development.

While chronic stress harms our health, experiencing occasional bouts of stress in response to life’s challenges can be beneficial in the proper doses. When we experience short-term stress, our bodies release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to help us focus and react quickly to a perceived threat. In addition, stress can prompt us to make positive lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, eating healthier, and seeking social support.

The Yerkes-Dodson law

Knowing that moderate amounts of stress can be motivating to us, it may be interesting to look at

The Yerkes-Dodson law. This principle in psychology describes the relationship between arousal and performance. The law states that as the level of arousal increases, so does performance, but only up to a point. Beyond that point, known as the “optimal level of arousal,” further increases in arousal can lead to a decline in performance. This relationship between arousal and performance is often depicted on a graph as an inverted U-curve. The Yerkes-Dodson law suggests that there is an optimal level of arousal that varies based on the complexity of the task, with simple tasks requiring a lower level of arousal and complex tasks requiring a higher level. The law has important implications for understanding human performance, motivation, and stress, and it has been applied to a wide range of fields, including education, sports, and business.

Long-term chronic stress

Chronic stress persisting over an extended period can seriously affect a person’s mental and physical health. Unlike acute stress, a short-lived response to a perceived threat or challenge, chronic stress can be caused by ongoing issues such as financial problems, relationship troubles, or work-related stressors. If left unaddressed, chronic stress can lead to various physical and psychological symptoms, including headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and a weakened immune system. It’s essential to recognize the signs of chronic stress and manage it, such as practicing relaxation techniques, seeking support from loved ones, and making lifestyle changes that promote a healthy work-life balance.

What is Stress Tolerance?

Stress tolerance is the capacity to manage stress and bounce back from adversity. It involves remaining calm and composed in challenging situations and maintaining a positive outlook. Stress tolerance requires identifying and managing stressors, practicing coping mechanisms, and building resilience.

Higher Range Tolerance vs. Lower Range Tolerance

There are two types of stress tolerance, higher range tolerance and lower range tolerance. Higher range tolerance refers to managing a broad range of stressors effectively. People with high-range tolerance can handle multiple challenges simultaneously without being overwhelmed. On the other hand, lower-range tolerance refers to the ability to handle only a limited number of stressors before becoming overwhelmed. People with lower range tolerance may struggle with even minor stressors.

Relationship Between Stress Tolerance and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage emotions and is closely related to stress tolerance. People with high emotional intelligence can regulate their emotions, manage stressors effectively, and maintain a positive outlook. They can also read other people’s emotions, communicate effectively, and build strong relationships, which is essential in reducing stress levels.

Locus of Control

Locus of control refers to the belief in whether our outcomes result from our actions or external factors such as luck or destiny. People with an internal locus of control believe they can control their outcomes through their efforts and actions. In contrast, those with an external locus of control believe external factors determine their outcomes. People with an internal locus of control are more likely to have high-stress tolerance as they believe they can control their stress response.

Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are the strategies we use to deal with stress. Different people have different coping mechanisms; some are more effective than others. Effective coping mechanisms include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, seeking social support, and engaging in hobbies. In contrast, unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, overeating, or avoidance can lead to further stress and negative consequences.

Impact on the Workplace

Stress tolerance is essential in the workplace, where deadlines, conflicts, and other stressors are prevalent. Employees with high-stress tolerance can manage their workload effectively, handle disputes, and maintain productivity even in high-pressure situations. On the other hand, employees with low-stress tolerance may struggle with deadlines, make poor decisions, and become disengaged, leading to poor job performance.


Stress is a part of life, and developing stress tolerance is crucial for maintaining mental and physical health. By identifying stressors, practicing effective coping mechanisms, and building resilience, we can increase our stress tolerance and manage stressors effectively. With high-stress tolerance, we can approach challenges with a positive outlook and achieve our personal and professional goals. As Robert Schuller said, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” And remember, as Matthew 19:26 says, “For with God all things are possible.”