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Why stress is GOOD for us

  • November 07, 2018

It can be hard to avoid stress.

Everyone faces it at some point and although we often see stress as a negative part of our lives, it can also have a positive effect on us.

Short-lived stress is triggered by every day stressors such as work deadlines. And, contrary to prolonged chronic stress, short-lived stress is said to have a positive impact on memory. With a recent study finding that when rats were placed in short-lived stressful situations, they performed better in a memory test.

A study also found that stress can make you more social. In short, the study divided two groups into a stress condition and a control condition. The result was that the students in the stress condition exhibited more prosocial behaviours. They trusted more and were more willing to share.

Short-term stress may even help with your alertness and cognitive performance.

Therefore, one of the best ways to deal with minor stress is to tackle it face on. For example, delivering a presentation in front of your co-worker’s may condition your brain to handle stressful situations. It primes you to better handle future stressful situations. When your brain successfully tackles one small stressor, events that could cause acute stress down the line may be less daunting since the brain has conquered it before.

It may have a positive effect on your prefrontal cortex, giving it the power to be more resilient in the face of stress. It’s like having the flu jab - a tiny amount of the virus is put into your body which immunizes you against the illness, or greatly reduces its effects, because your body has learnt to deal with the foreign agent previously. Similarly, if your body learns to cope with stressors, it more likely to learn how to deal with it in the same way it did before. If we think about a stressful situation such as attending an interview or ultimately changing jobs, once we have handled the initial stressful situation, our body has already learnt to overcome our emotions the next time.

If you feel the need to avoid a difficult or challenging situation, embrace it, push yourself out of your comfort zone and enjoy the positive changes it may bring.  



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