Stress, distress, eustress…These buzz words are getting attention right now, but how can they be leveraged and used to fuel your passion for fitness and with your training your clients?

Stress is the body’s response to changes in its inner or outer environment. It’s also a state where there’s emotional tension or strain resulting from a demanding or adverse situation or changes in the environment. These conditions are called stressors.

In a nutshell, a stressor can be anything that causes the body to experience a stress response.

Anti Stress Balls

Image by Alexas_Fotos

Examples of stressors or distress events are:

  • deadlines
  • rent & bills
  • managing a team
  • finances/budget,
  • life events (moving, changing careers, having children)
  • training certain clients!


But, there’s good news! Hans Selye, the 20th-century endocrinologist and scientist that trailblazed the road to stress research, pointed out there are two types of stress: Distress and Eustress.

Examples of the body’s distress response:

  • Fatigue (chronic tiredness)
  • Sleeplessness/Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Moodiness (anxiety, irritability, sadness, frequent crying)
  • Temper tantrums/struggle to control angry outbursts
  • A change in appetite (increase/decrease)
  • Headaches, backaches, chest pain
  • Difficulty/trouble breathing
  • Digestion issues (constipation, diarrhea, nausea)
  • A consistently negative attitude
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Struggles with concentration

But remember, not all stress is bad stress!  

There is eustress, which atually can be beneficial to the body. The prefix “EU” comes from Greek and means, “good.”  So the word  literally means  “good stress”. While Selye popularized the concept of eustress, we have to also credit Richard Lazarus for exploring the impacts of eustress.

Examples of eustress events: 

  • Reaching financial goals
  • Training a successful client
  • Business expansion
  • Earning a certification
  • Completing a specialization course
  • A wedding
  • Birth of a child
  • Going on a vacation
  • A promotion
  • Reaching a personal or professional milestone

 Examples of the body’s eustress response:

  • Increased focus
  • Heightened energy
  • Motivated attitude
  • Feelings of confidence
  • Improved performance
  • Perception that the task can be accomplished
  • Belief that the end result will be positive
  • Feelings of excitement

Using eustress to balance distress is one effective way to manage stress and to use it as fitness fuel!

By choosing to do activities that create eustress (good stress), it creates a good reaction in the body and helps to handle distress.

Examples of Eustress Activities:

  1. Movement/Fitness related activities
  2. Socializing with friends
  3. Meditating or practicing mindfulness-based activities
  4. Listening to positive, uplifting music
  5. Eating healthy, “stress-busting foods
  6. Talking about distress to someone you trust, who understands, and can help you problem-solve

You can also take time to focus, reflect, journal, and celebrate about eustress-ful events happening in your life such as the examples listed above. Or even try discussing some eustress-ful events with friends, family, and colleagues. Chances are, they will have some to discuss with you. This allows the impact and influence of the eustress to expand.

As the holidays near, check out and share with your clients our 30 Day Stress Reduction Challenge before the Holidays. It’s a great outline and challenge to leverage the concept of eustress!


Shay Vasudeva

Shaweta “Shay” Vasudeva, MA (Psychology), MS (Kinesiology), NFPT-CPT, NASM-CPT-CES, THSA-CNT, and Tai Chi & Black Belt Karate Instructor is a teaching professional, speaker, author, coach, and cat lover! Her passion is to help people become the best version of themselves by using an interdisciplinary and holistic approach, bringing 10+ years of experience in Psychology, Personal Fitness Training, Corrective Exercise, Nutritional Coaching, Cranial Sacral Work, and teaching Karate & Tai Chi classes to her business, ShayTheCoach. Shay teaches classes at Maricopa Community College District as an Adjunct Professor. For more information visit her personal webpage: