Although "stress" has become synonymous with something bad, such as traffic jams and too many work demands, some stress is good for you. Pioneering stress researcher Hans Selye differentiated between damaging stress (distress) and positive stress (eustress). Positive stress can inspire us to do our best and to perform better than if we were under no stress.
Psychologists tell us that our level of performance is directly related to the level of stress we experience. This theory says that low and high levels of arousal decrease performance, whereas intermediate levels enhance performance. In other words, we are capable of peak levels of performance when under a moderate amount of stress.
Consider a situation such as taking a test or giving a presentation. Reducing your stress through preparation and careful planning leads to a more confident and competent performance. The increase in stress motivated and caused you to take action.
A moderate amount of stress can play a positive role in our health. One study found that people who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery had a better recovery than those who felt low or high levels of stress. Moderate stress levels helped this group realistically appraise and anticipate their circumstances. Low levels of stress, on the other hand, led some people to be unrealistic and unprepared, while high levels of stress led others to be so anxious that they couldn't cope.
Consider that small stresses may be training ground for coping with larger stresses. Practice might not make perfect, but it can increase our confidence about dealing with inevitable future stress.