We often hear how stress is bad for your health, and that is simply true. Experts agree that many life-threatening diseases people suffer from these days are rooted from stress. However, not a lot of people know that stress can also be good for you. Getting worked up is not always a bad thing. After all, the body’s primary response to stress is meant to protect the body and not to harm it. The only time stress affects your health and total wellbeing in a negative way is when it starts to become chronic. That said, here are five surprising ways short-term anxiety can actually be good for you and your body.
Stress Can Help Boost Brainpower
Whenever you’re in a stressful situation, your body releases brain chemicals that help you respond to stress. At low-levels, stress can stimulate the production of neurotrophins. These chemicals help strengthen the connections between brain neurons. These are also the same chemicals that the brain release every time you engage yourself in exercise, which is also a form of physical stressor. Meanwhile, animal studies suggest that even high levels of stress can help boost memory temporarily. If an upcoming exam in school or presentation at work is stressing you, be thankful, because the stress you feel is just your body’s response to make sure you are going to perform well.
Stress Can Enhance Immune Readiness
One of the main functions of stress is to prepare your body for the possibility of infection. When you’re feeling stressed, your body produces extra interleukins, or chemicals that help regulate your immune system. Interleukins can provide your immune system with a temporary boost, just enough to keep sickness at bay. In 2012, a study performed at Stanford showed rats producing a massive deployment of various immune cells in their bloodstreams as a response to mild stress. The low-level stress also resulted to the release of corticosterone, a hormone that helps enhance antibody response.
Stress Helps You Become More Resilient
Repeated exposure to stressful situations allows you to have a sense of control, physically and psychologically speaking. This is a principle used in Navy SEAL training. While most people prefer less stress or even the absence of it, stress can actually help you learn how to deal with difficult situations, so that future ones becomes easier for you to manage. It’s safe to say that stress gives you mental toughness, so that when a more difficult situation comes to challenge you, you won’t easily shut down, but instead come out on top a winner.
Stress Motivates You for Success
In the scientific community, good stress or healthy stress is referred to as eustress. Scientists agree that eustress can give you a heightened sense of awareness and focus. When you are working, competing in a sport, or studying, for instance, the presence of eustress can help drive you to succeed. When you are facing a deadline, for instance, good stress can stimulate your behavior, so that you will be able to manage the situation with efficiency, and with more focus and productivity. In the same manner, when you are in a do-or-die basketball game, stress hormones help energize your body, so that you can run faster, jump higher, and have a higher chance to hit that game-winning shot.
Stress Can Boost Child Development
Apparently, low levels of stress is healthy for children, too. Most moms-to-be worry too often that their own stress will affect the child in their womb in a negative way. Yes, it actually can, but only when the stress becomes long-term. However, in a 2006 study done in Johns Hopkins, researchers found that women who reported experiencing mild to moderate stress during their pregnancy had children who showed greater developmental skills by their second year than those of moms-to-be who were did not report experiencing any stress at all.
You have heard a thousand times how stress is bad for you, but based on the information above, stress can actually be good – of course, only if it’s short-term. It’s good to know that when the body initially reacts to a situation through stress, it’s for protecting the body, and not for harming it. For this reason, don’t always be stressed with stress, but recognize that it can also be good for you.
The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It