The Right Amount of Stress

The right amount of stress in any given situation is called eustress and an overwhelming amount of is called distress.

It is possible to generate eustress in situations where we put ourselves out, stretch our limits, and reach out of our comfort zone.

On the other hand, distress can be very harmful to our immune system, our health, and our vitality.

George Mumford writes about athletes, but these words of wisdom apply to all walks of life:


“Our bodies like to be in homeostasis. We like to be balanced. Life is hard enough—we want to be comfortable! But, again, to get better and improve our game on and off the court, we need to move out of our comfort zones. That doesn’t mean you should so far out of your comfort zone that you can’t function well. Our bodies work best when we push them in small increments. If we push ourselves too far, eustress can become distress. We have to really pay attention, because they can manifest the same symptoms. Eustress is achieved through moderation, sticking to the middle way, and not going to extremes. …

Moving out of your comfort zone through experiencing eustress is a continuous incremental process of romancing your discomfort zone. It’s not like you get to a certain level and then stay there. Things are always either going forward or backward; they’re not staying static. If you are comfortable where you are and you just want to stay comfortable, that’s fine, but that isn’t the way to pursue excellence and wisdom.”

—George Mumford from The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance

What situations cause you to move out of your comfort zone and experience eustress?

Try this guided meditation to help you understand your stress response more completely:

Books by George Mumford

Mindful Athlete, The: Secrets to Pure Performance

George Mumford

Michael Jordan credits George Mumford with transforming his on-court leadership of the Bulls, helping Jordan lead the team to six NBA championships. Mumford also helped Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom and countless other NBA players turn around their games. A widely respected public speake…

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