Stress can be good for (wait, what?)

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By Phee (Pixabay) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In its short time of existence, this blog has talked a lot about stress, anxiety and depression up to a certain extent. I’ve talked about how they work, how to manage them and how to get rid of them (or at least try to), but did you know that a little stress can actually be good for you?

I can just imagine how all of you are reacting to this. Hopefully most of you are curious and saying, “Go on,” and the rest of you are saying things like, “what?”, “no way”, “stress is not good no matter what”, “you don’t know what you are saying” and to you guys I’ll say this, just hear me out and it will make sense (some of you might even be saying oh yeah I knew that. If you are one of these people then well then you’ll probably find the rest of this post very boring).

As I have said before in other posts, stress started out as a survival mechanism for us, we would only get stressed if we were in danger like if we were hungry or something was attacking or we were dying. It was part of our fight or flight response and it kept us alive. It’s only because we humans have changed so much and have changed the world so much that stress has become what it is now, something that makes life miserable and gets in the way of everything we do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use stress to our advantage.

In small doses stress can be very helpful. The site news.health.com wrote a nice little article on the subject, it’s called, “5 Weird Ways Stress Can Actually Be Good for You,” written by Amanda MacMillan. You can go check it out for yourself but I’ll sum it up for you.

  1. Low level stress can help boost your brain activity; this makes sense. If your life is in danger, you need to be able to think fast.
  2. It can increase immunity in the short term. When your body is stressed it starts to prepare itself for injury or infection, however long term stress reduces immunity and that is detrimental to your health.
  3. Short term and low level stress can make you resilient. The logic here is that by facing a little stress you become better at managing stressful situations, it’s a ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ kind of thing.
  4. It can help you get the job done and achieve your goals. When you feel a deadline coming up you usually get stressed out and work extra hard to get the job done in time, this amount of stress is called good stress or eustress.
  5. It can help in a child’s development. Believe it or not a 2006 John Hopkins study  showed that most children of women who felt moderate amounts of stress during pregnancy had better motor and developmental skills by the age of 2 than other children. Not sure what the logic is behind that but there you go.So yeah that’s about it; oddly enough a moderate amount of stress is good for you. Remember though the key word here is moderate, too much of anything is bad for you no matter what it is. Also, you should be careful about putting stress on your plate, everyone is different and different people will handle certain stress differently from others. My advice is to try to learn your limits. Don’t be afraid to do more, but be wary of taking on too much, just experiment and don’t be afraid of failure.
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