Stress: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Understanding The Range Of What Can Put You “In The Groove” Or In The Hospital

By John Long, WIBC General Sales Manager

Usually, stress conjures up negative feelings. Thoughts like, “I am so stressed out at work” or “the stress my kids are giving me will be the end of me”.  

But not all stress is bad; in fact, Dr. Gregory Sipes, PhD Psychologist shared recently with a WIBC audience that many times stress is good.  If we didn’t feel some stress in our lives we’d feel directionless and unhappy.  Like exercise, stress has positive outcomes even though it can be difficult when you are going through it. He broke out stress into three different categories.

Good Stress vs. Bad Stress

1)    The good stress – this is the type of stress that quickens our pulse but there is no threat or fear. This kind of stress is common when we ride a roller coaster; go for a promotion or when you’re on a first date.  It keeps us feeling alive and excited about life.

2)    The bad stress – this is called acute stress.  It comes from quick surprises that need a response. We normally view this as “stress”.  Preparing for a big presentation and having the fear of failure can cause acute stress.  Once the stress is dealt with we return to a pre-stress state, to be happy and healthy.

3)    The ugly stress – this type of stress is called chronic stress.  Dealing with chronic stress can take a heavy toll on one’s body and mind.  These are situations that feel inescapable, like an unhappy home life or a stressful job. Eventually, long durations of chronic stress will cause negative health effects.  Many times it can be the prescribed coping mechanisms that will bring on the negative health effects.  Using alcohol or drugs are common coping mechanisms that have unhealthy results.  Depression is also a manifestation of chronic stress.

Dr. Sipes went on to say that if the challenge is bigger than your skill set can handle, it creates bad or ugly stress and conversely if your skill set can handle the challenge then the stress can be good.  When you find where your challenge and skill set intersect that is your maximum performance or it is when FLOW occurs.  FLOW is like “being in the zone” or “on a roll” or “in the groove”.  One is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. 

Dr. Sipes final recommendation:  Exercise is the best anti-depressant remedy.

Each month you can learn such practical tips for personal and professional growth at the Reach Leadership Series presented by WIBC.  It’s an inspirational 90-minute program over coffee and a light breakfast.

At each session, a different industry leader drives a thought provoking discussion in the area of marketing, sales, leadership or personal development.  There is no cost to attend.

All of our events are held at the Forum Conference Center in Fishers.  Registration and networking begins at 8:00am followed by the Program and Speaker.  For more information go to and click on the Reach Leadership Series icon.