How stress can be good for you

Stress has a bad reputation. When we talk about stress, usually bad things come to mind. Anxiety, burnout, and overall negative health effects are associated with it. Chronic stress is indeed dangerous and pretty bad for your health, but not all stressful events are created equal. Stress affects our lives in different ways, and while too much for too long is usually harmful, it turns out that just the right amount of stress can actually be good for us!


Stress can make your brain grow


A 2013 study on rats found that a brief stressful situation (the animals were stuck in their cage for a few hours) doubled the growth of new brain cells and improved memory. It is possible that the same happens to humans. The right amount of stress has an impact on alertness and performance, and the growth of new brain cells might play a role here.



Stress may help improve your memory


If an event is stressful, you’re more likely to remember it. Experiencing moderate stress can help you remember a specific situation. This has been very important for our evolution as a species. If you remember a dangerous situation, you’re more likely to avoid the same situation in the future. “Biologically, the exposure to moderate stress causes an increase in the generation of specialized cells that participate in memorizing the stressful event,” says neuroscientist Daniela Kaufer, PhD, acting associate dean and professor at University of California, Berkeley.



Stress can boost your energy

Good stress, known as “eustress,” can give you a boost of energy. This positive form of stress can arouse your body and mind. Have you ever been through a stressful situation and felt sharp and energized? This would be a challenging yet exciting situation, such as performing on a stage or starting a new job. This type of stress actually creates new neural pathways and stimulates endorphin release (feel-good hormones).


Stress might be good for your immune system


While chronic stress can be a killer, the right amount of eustress can actually stop you from getting sick. According to a study, “manageable levels of life stress may enhance psychobiological resilience to oxidative damage.”


Stress might be good for your children


Being pregnant can be stressful at times, but the good news is that occasional acute stress is not necessarily a bad thing for the fetus.In fact, a study has found that “mild to moderate levels of maternal psychological stress during pregnancy may actually enhance fetal maturation. While the common stresses of daily modern life are unlikely to affect your kids’ development, chronic stress, on the other hand, can indeed be harmful.

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