This week’s Thrive in Five I want to talk about when good stress becomes bad stress.

Now stress is not a bad thing; Childbirth is stressful, going to the gym can be stressful, deadlines are stressful – but all of those things help us to get stuff done.

It becomes problematic when it’s prolonged and elevated. In other words, let’s take a glass of water, for example, even if the glass was full of water, it wouldn’t be heavy. It wouldn’t be difficult for me to hold that up.

If, however, I’m expected to hold that up for hours on end, it then becomes problematic. It then becomes heavy, my arm starts to ache, and I struggle to manage it.

Intermittent stress is fine. In fact, it can be positive. It’s what we call a hormetic stress.

If we think about the gym and you were to work out all day, every day, it would soon become problematic for your health. But intermittently it’s good for you, if you get adequate recovery.

This applies to things like saunas – great for you if you do it intermittently for short periods. Not good for you if you sit in there all day. You’ll be toast.
A hormetic stress is something that, in the right dose, is good for you, but could kill you in the incorrect dosage.

At what point does stress move from being a good hormetic stress to a bad one?

Generally, you’ll start to experience signs of overtraining or overexertion.

Things like unexplained aches and pains, fatigue, insomnia, libido problems, difficulties relaxing, a racing mind, immune system very suppressed, so you get ill more often and struggle to shake off illnesses when you get them. If you start to experience any of those symptoms, that essentially is you in the overtraining or overexerting zone.

And that’s when the things you’re doing, that can be a good stress, are starting to become bad stresses, and you need to take action.

If you want to find out more about this, we have lots of content on our website about overtraining, overreaching and burnout.

Here are few to get you started:

What Are The Signs Of Overtraining?
The Classic Stages Of Burnout
The Early Signs Of Burnout Aka The ‘Mystery Sickness’

It’s something to keep aware of, staying on the right side, getting enough stress to get that hormetic positive health response, but not overstepping the mark into, essentially, distress.

As always, if you have any questions please do get in touch here:
[email protected].

What’s Your Health IQ?

Discover what your Health IQ score is based on the Six Signals™: sleep, mental health, body composition, energy, digestion and physical fitness. Our simple diagnostic tool will help you understand where you should prioritise your efforts.

Click here to take our test


  • Leanne is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. She delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight', is the author of bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine', and hosts a podcast called ’Remove the Guesswork‘. Leanne is the founder of Bodyshot Performance, an award-winning health and wellbeing company. Bodyshot Performance work with businesses of up to 500 people who want to create a culture of energy, vitality and performance through the business and position wellbeing as a competitive advantage. Bodyshot intersect the latest science and technology to provide unique solutions to the challenge of wellbeing in the workplace that have a direct impact on the bottom line. Our clients have won awards for wellbeing and recognise it directly improves employee engagement and retention and attracts talent into the business.  We also work with chronically stressed or burned out professionals to get you back in control of your health and able to do the things you want to do in life. My expertise is around health, fitness and wellbeing, specifically focusing on sleep, mental health, energy, body composition, digestion and fitness. I host a popular podcast on iTunes called ’Remove the Guesswork ‘, and in November 2016 I delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight'. I’m the author of the bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine' and I regularly speak to corporates on health and wellbeing. My personal values are to live truthfully, considerately and to "suck all the marrow out of life" as Thoreau said. I support the charity Diversity Role Models which works to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. I recently completed the world’s toughest ski race to raise £10,125 for Alzheimer's Research as my father-in-law was profoundly ill with Alzheimers, and I am on a constant mission to find ways to live in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. I love sport, fitness, reading, gardening, business, podcasting, and being with my cat and our scampish little rescue dog, Kami from Romania.