By Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS

In spite of how often people talk about feeling stressed they could be underestimating just how much tension they’re actually experiencing.   This can lead to frustration when well intended relaxation attempts seem ineffective.  You might need more stress management than you thought in order to balance everything you’re facing.

Recognizing the many ways stress shows up in your life can help you manage it more effectively.  Why does stress management matter? It matters because managing life stress can help reduce negative health risks associated with strain from chronic stress.

Believe it or not there are three types of stress: eustress, neustress, and distress. Eustress-or good stress-occurs when positive things happen in your life causing euphoria and motivation.  For example, falling in love, starting a  dream  job, or taking a luxurious vacation could all be sources of eustress.  Because these experiences bring pleasure and joy you might not realize when they create a stress response in your body.

If the exhilaration of new beginnings starts to turn into sleepless nights because you’re too excited to settle down, or if you’re so giddy you can’t eat, you might want to pull a few stress management tools out of your personal wellness toolkit.  Effective and timely stress management can help bring yourself into a more balanced state before you start to experience negative health effects.

The second type of stress is called neustress or neutral stress. This kind of stress occurs when you’re exposed to situations that have no direct effect on you.  For example, hearing about devastating tornadoes or earthquakes in another part of the world can create neustress.  You might not have been directly affected by the disaster but the news can still create a stress response.

Prolonged exposure to neustress can, however, lead to distress.  For example,  hearing excessive news coverage of an event can lead to feeling stress emotions like fear or anger.  Recognizing this can help you better support yourself when being barraged by information that doesn’t directly affect you, especially if it’s unpleasant news.

Distress, or bad stress, is the third and most commonly acknowledged form of stress.  This is what most people mean when they say they’re feeling stressed.  Distress can occur over a brief, intense period or over a long, subtle period. Either way it’s important to be aware of when distress is happening so you can manage it.

Recognizing the subtle way stress shows up in your life empowers you to intervene before you start to experience health problems.  Simple personal wellness habits like remembering to take slow, deep breaths or taking a short, relaxing walk can help reduce stress affects.    Stress prevention can’t always happen, but effectively managing it can help reduce its negative effects.

For some stress management ideas read Stressed Out? 5 Self-Care Survival Tips

Be well,

Dr. Donna


© 2012 Donna Hamilton, MD


Holistic Wellness Speaker Dr. Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS supports people in becoming optimally healthy.  She passionately teaches people what being healthy really means and provides practical tools and strategies to address the five key areas affecting health.  Dr. Hamilton-a former board certified pediatrician-is Chief Wellness Officer and owner of Manifest Excellence, LLC.  She specializes in holistic wellness promotion and speaks nationally on this topic.  Dr. Hamilton teaches a comprehensive approach to health and wellness that addresses mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical well-being. For more information visit


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Donna Hamilton, MD, MS, FAAP

Chief Wellness Officer at Manifest Excellence
Bestselling author, dynamic holistic wellness speaker and wellness luminary Dr. Donna Hamilton, MD, has a mission to help everyone live the healthy, satisfying lives we’re all meant to lead. Dr. Hamilton passionately teaches what being healthy really means and how to do it in a way that fits your unique needs. Her easy, practical tips assist you with assessing the entire wellness landscape and appropriately planning your personal wellness journey.

A wellness thought leader, she champions a comprehensive approach to health by addressing mental, emotional, social, spiritual & physical well-being with a simple and potent message. Her book Wellness Your Way offers a practical strategy to assist readers in creating a happier, healthier life. For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit or
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