Stress in general gets a bad rep. We often hear about how too much stress can be harmful to our health and well-being. However, not all stress is bad for us. In fact, there is a type of good stress that can actually be beneficial — eustress!

Eustress or “good stress,” can help us feel energized and motivated. As coaches, healers, and facilitators, it’s important to understand the difference between eustress and distress, and how to help our clients experience the benefits of positive stress. In this blog, we’ll explore what triggers good stress, and how breathwork can be used to activate it.

Are you ready, folks? Let’s get to it!

Understanding Eustress vs. Distress


Distress is the type of stress that most people are familiar with. It’s the feeling of overwhelm, anxiety, and pressure that comes from being under too much stress for too long (chronic stress).

Some things that can cause distress are:

  • Heavy workloads and unreasonable deadlines
  • Relationship problems
  • Financial struggles
  • Health issues
  • Living through trauma or difficult experiences

It can show up in the body as tension, headaches, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system. Distress can also have a negative impact on mental health, leading to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and burnout.


On the other hand, eustress is the feeling of excitement, challenge, and anticipation that comes from a positive stressor. It can push us out of our comfort zones and help us GROW and expand, rather than cause harm. When you experience eustress, you feel energized, focused, and motivated!

Some examples of triggers for eustress are:

  • Starting an exciting new job or project
  • Moving to a new home or city
  • Anticipation of a big event (like a wedding, festival, or party!)
  • Dating and new relationships
  • Trying something new (like a hobby, skillset, or class)
  • Traveling to somewhere you’ve never been before
  • A challenging workout or physical activity
  • Speaking or performing on stage (or in front of an audience)
  • Presenting in a meeting that you’ve prepared for
  • Competitive sports and activities

Essentially, good stress makes us feel ALIVE, powerful, and like we can accomplish anything we set our mind to if we approach it with a positive attitude!

But, it’s important to note that what may cause good stress (eustress) for one person, may cause distress for another. As coaches and healers, it’s crucial to understand our clients’ individual stress triggers and how they respond to them on a somatic level. Then together we can work with our clients to help them experience the benefits of good stress, instead of collapsing and staying stagnant in their comfort zones.


What Are the Benefits of ‘Good Stress’?

While distress can have negative effects on our physical and mental health, eustress has so many benefits! Some of those benefits include:

  • Increased brainpower: Good stress can stimulate the production of brain chemicals called neurotrophins and strengthen connections between neurons.
  • Improved productivity and concentration: Intense exercise or deadlines can act as a good stressor that helps us focus and get sh*t done.
  • Improved Memory: A 2017 review published in EXCLI Journal suggested that stress may improve memory in a short time frame for certain tests.
  • Temporary Immune Boost: Interleukins, chemicals that help regulate the immune system, are produced during stress and provide a temporary defense boost.
  • Better resilience to future stressors: Navy SEALs use repeated exposure to stressful situations to become more resilient. This idea can be used in less extreme experiences to achieve similar results for the average person.
  • Motivation to succeed: Achievable deadlines are a great way to kick our butt into action! Good stress can motivate us to complete tasks and achieve goals.

By helping our clients experience more eustress in their lives, we can help them feel more empowered, more capable, more resilient, more successful, and ultimately improve their overall well-being.

How Breathwork Can Increase Good Stress?

So how can breathwork help us activate the benefits of ‘good stress’ for our clients?

Breathwork is a powerful tool that can be used to intentionally induce a positive stress response in a controlled and safe environment. It involves using specific breathing techniques, often combined with movement or meditation, to bring about physical and emotional changes.

This 2023 study shares, “Fast-paced breathwork may also offer therapeutic benefit as temporary voluntarily induced stress is also known to be beneficial for health and stress resilience. For example, regular physical exercise can improve stress, anxiety and depression levels35, along with HRV36. Similarly, fast-paced breathing techniques can induce short-term stress that may improve mental health37, and have also been shown to volitionally influence the ANS, promoting sympathetic activity38.”

So basically in a nutshell, fast-paced breathwork can help our clients build up their stress tolerance and resilience, as well as activate the positive effects of good stress in their lives and mental health.

It’s also worth mentioning that slow deep breathwork can decrease DISTRESS in the body, helping people feel more cool, calm, and collected so they can shift into a more empowered state (and handle their stress better)


A Pause Breathwork Technique to Activate Good Stress

One simple fast-paced Pause Breathwork Technique that you can share with clients to induce good stress is the “Tri-Active Breath”. It involves a double inhale and a single exhale through the mouth.

It goes like this:

  • First, inhale is through the mouth and into the belly.
  • Second, inhale is through the mouth and into the chest.
  • Exhale is one long breath through the mouth.
  • Put left hand on belly, right hand on chest to feel airflow.
  • Try this breath pattern for 2 minutes to start. Go at a rapid pace that feels comfortable.

How to Add Breathwork to Your Coaching Sessions

Now that we know the benefits of good stress and how breathwork can help, let’s explore how to incorporate breathwork into our coaching sessions with clients.

Good news, I’ve made it silly easy for you. 😉 I’ve created a simple Guided Breathwork Cheatsheet that you can download and print off to use in sessions. This handy resource provides you with three easy-to-follow breathwork techniques that you can start facilitating right away

Download the Guided Breathwork Cheatsheet HERE.

To wrap it all up…

Stress is not always a bad thing, and as coaches, healers, and facilitators, it’s important that we help our clients understand the difference between good stress and bad stress. 

By incorporating breathwork into our coaching sessions, we can help our clients build up their resilience to stress and reap the positive benefits of eustress in their lives. 

So let’s start incorporating breathwork into our coaching sessions and help our clients thrive in the face of stress!

Remember, a little bit of good stress can go a long way! So let’s embrace it with breathwork and expand beyond our comfort zones! 🥳

If you want to learn more about how to incorporate breathwork into your coaching practice, be sure to check out my FREE Training: How To Get Your Coaching Clients Lasting Results.

Thanks for reading, and happy healin’!

With love,

Samantha Skelly + The Pause Breathwork Team

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