While heavy stress loads seem an unavoidable aspect of entrepreneurship, the positive side of stress (often referred to as ‘eustress’) remains a neglected area of research. This paper contributes to entrepreneurship research by linking the research streams of eustress and reflective practice. As a tool for analyzing and developing thoughts and actions, reflective practice plays an important role in the interpretative work essential to positive stress experiences. Following an overview of approaches to stress at work, eustress and reflective practice, the paper explores how entrepreneurs experience the role of positive stress and reflective practice in their work and describes the reflective tools utilized by entrepreneurs in promoting eustress. The research process was designed to support reflective dialogue among the 21 Finnish entrepreneurs from different fields who participated in the study, with results based mainly on qualitative interviews. Nine of the interviewed entrepreneurs also kept a positive stress diary, including a three-day physiological measurement analyzing their heartbeat variability. The findings suggest that positive stress and reflective practice are intertwined in the experiences of entrepreneurs and illustrate the role of reflective practice as a crucial toolset for promoting positive stress, comprising six reflective tools: studying oneself, changing one’s point of view, putting things into perspective, harnessing a feeling of trust, regulating resources and engaging in dialogue. Individual reflective capabilities vary, and a theory-driven division of
reflective practice into individual, social and contextual dimensions is considered useful in understanding those differences. The research offers a starting point for exploring how eustress and reflective practice affect the well-being of entrepreneurs.
Keywords: eustress, positive stress, reflective practice, entrepreneurs.