Eustress and Distress in Elite Sport

We all experience stress in our daily lives and athletes are no different. How we experience that stress depends on how we choose to think about the stress, feel the stress and respond to the stress.

“It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Eustress vs Distress

Stress is not always “bad” thing. It is subjective, so something that is stressful for you may not be stressful for someone else. Stress can motivate us to change habits and move us closer to our chosen dreams, and aspirations. If we felt no stress, we would not be compelled to act in ways that bring about conscious and meaningful change.

There are a few different types of stress we can experience, however essentially they fall in to two different categories – eustress and distress.  What are some of the differences between eustress and distress?

Glad you asked have a look at the graphic below…

Some Possible Examples of Eustress and Distress In Elite Sport for Athletes

As we all manage stress differently, it is hard to categorise stress objectively. However, following is a table that identifies a list of stressors for athletes within elite sport that have been divided in to example of eustress and distress for athletes.

Are there any other possible example of eustress or distress for athletes in sport you would add? If so, what are they? Feel free to share them below in the comments section.


Questions for Reflection –

Following are a couple of questions for reflection on stress.

  • How do you typically respond to stressful events in your life?
  • Do you allow yourself to sit with stress and use the stressful energy constructively? or Do you feel overwhelmed by stress and turn towards a state of panic or physical/emotional withdrawal?


Over to You…

Remember, change is a constant part of life and from every experience we can practice new ways of responding to stress instead of reacting.

Feel free to share any insights or responses below. If you liked this article and want to keep taking the next step towards freedom and thriving in sport and lifeplease feel free to join the Sport Life Flow community by clicking here.

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