With so much focus on the negative ramifications of stress, it’s easy to forget that some stress is actually positive. This type is called eustress, or good stressors, as opposed to distress.
Positive stress can be a powerful, galvanizing force for everyone. It can provide needed motivation, an excellent opportunity to push an individual’s capabilities, and a unique way to find personal growth.
The changes and challenges of young adulthood naturally come with many sources of positive stress. Increased responsibilities and autonomy at this stage of life pave the way to learn vital life skills for the future.
Ultimately, the positive stressors of young adulthood can be seen as deeply needed lessons that will set a foundation for the decades ahead.
What Are Good Stressors?
Good stressors often include a variety of significant steps, including:
– Leaving home and living on your own for the first time, whether in the same region or further afield
-Managing university (or other post-secondary) expectations, along with employment, on your own
-Setting goals for future careers and financial independence
-Paying bills and budgeting
-Adjusting to new social situations, making new friends, and interacting with supervisors and co-workers in professional settings
-Being expected to participate actively and collaborate on team projects at university, work, or volunteer opportunities
-Navigating more serious romantic relationships and commitments
All of these scenarios, as well as others, create positive stress. They are important milestones along the way to independence. Their benefits come with a high return on investment.
Good Stressors Can Support Independence and Growth
When young adults experience situations where they must learn to take charge of their own needs and schedules, they experience healthy stress. This pressure will push them to focus on what’s important and how to take care of themselves.
To use the familiar term, they are being pushed out of the nest. Their parents and other adults may (hopefully) still be available to them for advice and guidance. Increasingly, though, they will learn to oversee much of these responsibilities on their own.
Along these same lines, the new expectations of young adulthood can teach people how to develop their support network and locate other helpful resources.
For example, if they’re struggling with an assignment, they can reach out to instructors, tutors, or classmates. They can find someone to help explain confusing bills or contracts to them. When they become overwhelmed and anxious, they learn the importance of mindfulness and other stress management tools.
Develops Prioritization Skills
Likewise, these situations can help young adults prioritize.
For example, if a part-time job interferes with school, perhaps they need to look for another job or request a different schedule. When too much partying affects their grades, hopefully, they will realize their education is worth more than a hangover. If a romantic relationship becomes an enormous source of psychological turmoil, they may know it’s not the time for a serious commitment.
Encourages a Community Mindset
These types of positive stress also teach young adults about what it means to be part of the broader community.
It helps them become productive members of society. Although it’s an overused phrase, at its root, it means that they will ultimately learn to contribute not only to their own needs. They will also contribute to the needs of the community at large in a variety of ways, such as:
Building relationships with co-workers
Involvement with a faith community
Romantic partnerships and raising children
Learning to be involved in the political system
The benefits of positive stress teach lessons that are as important as any in a classroom. When they learn to juggle multiple demands, plan for the future, and reach financial self-sufficiency, young adults are learning resilience and perseverance. When they tackle new challenges, they about their strengths, preferences, and even weaknesses. They become empowered adults.
Do you know a young adult feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of life’s challenges? Let them know that it is okay (and healthy) to reach out for support! We invite you to read more about teen counseling and contact our office if you’d like to learn more.