Are the Effects of Excitement and Stress Similar?

Have you ever asked yourself this question: Does my body respond to stress the same way it responds to excitement or to happiness?

Here’s your chance to learn a bit more about this subject. Let’s begin with some facts about stress:

There is good stress, otherwise known as eustress (… …and there is bad stress, otherwise known as distress (

Both types of stress need energy, and your body will provide that energy whenever it’s needed.

To better explain, I’ll use the technically incorrect terms good energy and bad energy. Energy is energy, but these terms will help you to better understand what I’m talking about.

Imagine this scenario: A lion is chasing a zebra. In order to chase that zebra, the lion needs energy, and his body produces a good supply of it for the chase. The lion is experiencing eustress: In other words, he’s using energy in a productive way to fulfill his desire to chase the zebra.

The poor zebra needs to run to survive the lion’s attack. Her body will provide energy, but it is the different type: In other words, it is bad, or distress energy, which consists of stressful hormones arising from a stressful event.

What’s the difference between the types of energy stemming from the stress experienced by these two animals?

Both animals needed energy, and both of them received it. However, each received a different kind of energy.

To survive, the zebra used her stress-produced energy in a positive way–by running. This response permanently expelled all the harmful hormones from her body. After a successful escape, the zebra was able to relax—only minutes after the lion’s attack.

Now let’s compare the stress responses of the lion and the zebra to those of humans:

When humans experience happiness or excitement, they behave like the lion. Their full supply of good (eustress) energy enables them to respond with positive feelings that prompt them to act productively, and all stress hormones are eradicated from their bodies.

This type of stress isn’t harmful. As a matter of fact, it’s beneficial: Examples of eustress include studying for an exam, writing a book, or giving a speech.

On the other hand, fearful humans act like the zebra: They are full of bad energy, or distress energy. But worrying and being fearful are never positive responses to a situation. Those types of responses are like accelerating a car when the brakes are engaged: The car burns energy (gasoline), but it doesn’t move at all.

A person uses good energy only by doing something (running or fighting back)—by using energy properly. When a person worries, negative energy (not used energy) remains inside the body and will “go on” the body’s weak point, causing headaches, back pain, gastrointestinal illnesses, or mental issues, depending upon what your weak point is (

Animals handle short-term stress properly: They fight back, they forget the incident immediately, and they return to a normal state and relax just minutes after the incident.

Unlike animals, unfortunately, humans return to their normal state no less than 2–3 hours after the stressful incident. Even worse, they talk about the stressful event for days, thereby retaining a high volume of stressful hormones.

Whenever you talk about your stress, the number of your stressful hormones increases. This is because the human brain doesn’t know the difference between the real event and your imagination.

Try to deal with stress by taking a positive action: run away from it, fight it, or relax and ignore it.

Like the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy!” If you do, you’ll also be healthy.