Your body cannot tell the difference between eustress (good life events) and distress (stress that causes negative consequences). Thus, both eustress and distress trigger the fight-or-flight response, and both types of stress are equally taxing on your body.
The difference between eustress and hardship is a matter of functioning and performance. If stress enhances and improves your performance, it is eustress (see optimal performance on the inverted-U curve below). When stress exceeds your ability to cope and causes anxiety and poor functioning, it’s anxiety (see panic attack in the inverted-U curve below.
The fight or flight response is a natural response that occurs in response to perceived danger or threat. This response is triggered by the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body to fight or flee from danger. Eustress, a positive and motivating type of stress, can cause this reaction in situations where a person is faced with a challenging or exciting situation. Distress, on the other hand, is a type of stress that is negative and overwhelming, and it can trigger a fight-or-flight response in response to perceived danger or threat.
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