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International Stress Awareness Week 2023: Good and Bad Stress

International Stress Awareness Week 2023 is a major annual event focusing on stress management and campaigning against the stigma associated with stress and mental health issues. This significant week is held from the 30th of October – 3rd November, highlighting Stress Awareness Day on the 1st of November. The annual event was established by Carole Spier, the chairperson of the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), to draw attention to the vital importance of managing and reducing stress in our everyday lives.

The 2023 theme for International Stress Awareness Week is ‘Beyond Stress Management: From Stigma to Solutions’ inviting all those who are working to reduce the stigma associated with stress and mental health issues.

Good and Bad Stress

Stress is a universal part of life, and it can be categorised into two main types: good stress and bad stress. Good stress arises from positive, challenging experiences and can be motivating, while bad stress stems from negative or overwhelming situations and can have detrimental effects on our wellbeing. Understanding the difference between these two types of stress is essential for managing and harnessing stress effectively in our lives.

Good stress, often referred to as ‘eustress’, is a type of stress that can have positive effects on our lives. It’s the kind of stress that arises from challenging situations or exciting events, like starting a new job, taking on a fulfilling project, or pursuing personal growth opportunities. People who hold a positive stress mindset, which means stress is a challenge to be embraced, are more productive, focus better, feel more motivated at their jobs, and are less likely to consider new work opportunities due to stress. Endorsing stress as a challenge, rather than as a problem, is a counterintuitive trick that can boost your productivity and improve your wellbeing at work.

Bad stress, often referred to as ‘distress’ is the type of stress that can have detrimental effects on our physical and mental wellbeing. It typically arises from overwhelming or chronic situations, such as financial difficulties, relationship problems, or work-related pressures. Distress can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including anxiety, depression, physical health issues, and impaired cognitive functions. 33% of employees say they are less focused at work as a result of burnout. Untreated distress can pave the path to burnout, a state of physical and emotional exhaustion often stemming from chronic stress. When distress is left unaddressed, it can accumulate over time, overwhelming your coping mechanisms and draining your energy.

Constantly stressing about your job can be draining, but incorporating more of the things you enjoy into your job, whether it’s learning a new skill, working with a different team, or exploring volunteer opportunities, can help you curb workplace overwhelm. Setting clear goals that excite you and maintaining an open dialogue with your manager about how to achieve those goals can help you build a resilient, positive stress mindset. This tactic can also help you build your confidence and problem-solving skills which are valuable traits that can help you thrive both in and out of the workplace.

International Stress Awareness Day 2023 encourages individuals to take a proactive approach in understanding and managing stress effectively. It promotes awareness about the impact of stress on our lives and motivated us to seek information, resources, and strategies for coping with stress in healthier ways.

Tips for Reducing Bad Stress

Reducing bad stress, or distress is of paramount importance for maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing. Here are a few ways in which you can manage stress:

Watch what you eat

Watching what you eat can play a crucial role in reducing stress and promoting overall wellbeing. Research shows 46% of people say they eat too much or too unhealthily due to stress. Consuming a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to manage stress effectively. Certain food sources, including fatty fish, fermented foods like green leafy vegetables, and spices like ginger and turmeric curcumin, are known for the benefits they offer in combating the effects of stress and anxiety. Additionally, avoiding excessive caffeine, sugary snacks, and processed foods can help stabilise your energy levels and mood, preventing the spikes and crashes that often exacerbate stress.

Watch what you think

Monitoring and controlling your thoughts is a powerful strategy for reducing stress. Cognitive habits, such as negative self-talk and rumination, can significantly contribute to heighted stress levels. If you’re experiencing bad stress, practicing mindfulness meditation can be helpful. Meditation improves anxiety levels 60% of the time. This practice is based on techniques that teach you how to stay present and observe your breathing and thoughts as they occur. Meditation can help you stay centred in the present moment and reduce feelings of fear and anxiety about nonspecific future events that commonly cause distress.

Watch what you allow

What you allow into your life, including the people, activities, and obligations, can significantly impact your stress levels. Establishing healthy boundaries and learning to say no when necessary can be instrumental in reducing stress. Surrounding yourself with supportive, positive individuals who lift you up rather than drag you down can create a more nurturing environment. Like mindfulness meditation, boundaries can help you decrease bad stress levels naturally.

Watch how you breathe

The way you breathe plays a pivotal role in reducing stress and promoting relaxation. When you continuously take deep breaths, you increase the supply of oxygen to your brain and body, calming the nervous system and reducing the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Incorporating regular deep breathing exercises into your daily routine can be a simple yet highly effective tool for managing stress, restoring balance, and fostering a sense of calm in your life.

Watch how you move

Watching how you move, both physically and mentally, plays a significant role in reducing stress. 33 percent of high-stress adults said they feel less stressed after exercising. Physical activity, such as regular exercise and mindful movement practices like yoga, can help alleviate stress by releasing endorphins and promoting relaxation. Additionally, being conscious of your posture and ergonomics in daily activities can prevent physical tension and discomfort that can contribute to stress.

Watch who’s around you

Having support is essential all the time, but it becomes even more critical when you’re dealing with stress. It’s important to confide in family and friends about the things that are really stressing you out. If you find it hard to open up to the people in your life about bad stress, it might be more beneficial to seek the help of a professional mental health counsellor. You’ll be able to freely express your feeling in an unbiased, safe environment without fear of judgement.

International Stress Awareness Week 2023 serves as a reminder to prioritise self-care and explore various stress relief-techniques, from mindfulness practices to physical activities, fostering a collective commitment to nurturing mental health and building resilience.

How Can Wellity Support You?

We hear the word ‘stress’ every day. Yet despite our familiarity with the term, actually understanding stress and how to manage it can be tough. Yet tackled in the right way, the stress response can be tamed and can, in fact be good for us. Our session ‘From Distress to De-Stress’ explores the fundamentals of stress awareness, enabling delegates to better understand their stress triggers and warning signs, and learn to use coping strategies to proactively tackle stress to prevent physical and mental ill-health.


  • Exploring stress, and why zebras don’t get ulcers.

  • Learning the other types of stress response.

  • Exploring the dynamic of pressure and performance.

  • Recognising triggers and tells.

  • Implementing the 4Rs for stress management.

For any information on our training titles, download our brochure:

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