Building Self-Awareness Between Good and Bad Stress

Relaxed woman facing the stress of work.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available.  Call or text 988 for someone to talk to, request mobile response for someone to come to you, or chat at

Are you aware of the signs of stress in your body? Your breaths get shorter, your back muscles get tense, and your appetite changes. 

Stress is inevitable. However, it’s important to recognize the signs and have the self-awareness to differentiate between the good stress and the bad. That way, you can keep yourself in check and avoid getting overwhelmed.

Recognizing Good and Bad Stress

Good Stress (Eustress): 

Good stress, also known as eustress, can push you to do better or take on tough situations. It’s the type of stress that motivates and energizes you. It’s the feeling you get before a big presentation, a job interview, or a performance. Eustress can help you focus, perform better, and be more productive. 

Bad Stress (Distress): 

Bad stress, or distress, is the chronic or excessive stress that overwhelms you and interferes with your daily functioning. It can pop up when you have ongoing issues like work pressures, relationship problems, financial worries, or major life changes.

It can lead to anxiety, depression, burnout, and many physical health problems if you don’t deal with it. In some cases, it can lead to substance use and suicidal thoughts.

Signs and Symptoms of Bad Stress

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of bad stress is the first step towards managing it effectively. Here are some of the most common signs:

  • Physical Symptoms: Headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, digestive issues, changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Emotional Symptoms: Anxiety, irritability, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm, sadness, or depression.
  • Behavioral Symptoms: Withdrawal from social activities, increased use of alcohol or drugs, difficulty concentrating, changes in performance at work or school.

Understanding How Technology Affects Stress

While technology makes your life easier and keeps you connected, it can also stress you out. That’s why it’s important to use it mindfully and set limits on how much you use it. Here are some simple tips:

  • Limit Screen Time: Decide on specific times when you’ll use technology and try to spend more time doing things that help you relax or talking face-to-face with people.
  • Turn off Notifications: Stop unnecessary notifications on your phone or computer so you can focus better without interruptions.
  • Create Tech-Free Areas: Choose places in your home or times of day when you won’t use technology at all. It’s a chance to take a break and recharge.
  • Take Breaks from Social Media and News: Give yourself a break from social media and the news. Too much information can make you feel more stressed. It might be hard at first, but it’s worth it.
  • Don’t Compare Yourself Online: Remember, what you see on social media isn’t always real life. Focus on your progress instead of comparing yourself to others.

Getting Help in Maryland

TLC-MD is a key advocate for mental health organizations in Maryland. There are several resources available if you need help managing stress or have other mental health concerns:

Crisis Helplines & Locations:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or text 988 and ask for the Mobile Response Team (MRT) or chat at This national hotline connects individuals with crisis counselors who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and mental health emergencies.
  • Maryland Crisis Hotline: Dial 211 and press 1 for information, referral, and crisis intervention. This statewide helpline provides access to trained crisis counselors 24/7. They can assist with crisis intervention, provide information on local resources, and offer emotional support. 
  • Dyer Care Center: This is a 23-hour outpatient facility in Prince George’s County that provides emergency crisis stabilization for mental health, behavioral health, and substance use. The center will be opening on April 25th, 2024. To learn more, visit or contact us at (888) 900–1257.

Reach Out to Local Organizations

Maryland has several organizations that focus on mental health and/or substance use support. Here are a few:

  • NAMI Maryland (National Alliance on Mental Illness): NAMI Maryland offers resources, support groups, and education programs for individuals and families. They have local chapters throughout the state.
  • Maryland Behavioral Health Administration (BHA): BHA oversees behavioral health services in Maryland and can connect you with resources, treatment options, and crisis support services.
  • SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a treatment locator tool that can help you find nearby mental health and/or substance use treatment facilities.

If you are a resident in Southern Maryland in need of mental health and/or substance use services, contact the following local government organizations:

If you have any questions or need additional help to find resources in your area, contact