The Benefits of Stress

June 15, 2019 at 4:00 AM
by Dawn-Marie Dalsass, Stress Management Expert
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Learning to appreciate stress which is usually viewed negatively, can help balance your emotions. Stress can actually have some surprising benefits. Let’s look at how we can consider stress from a different perspective. Long-lasting stress and anxiety doesn’t serve anyone. However, there are some limited instances of short-term stress can be beneficial.

Stress can help the brain. In a study, “Acute stress enhances adult rat hippocampal neurogenesis and activation of newborn neurons via secreted astrocytic FGF2,” the researchers found that stress had an interesting impact on the brains of rats. They found that stress can make neural connections stronger and help memory. This applies to solely to short-term stress and not long-term or severe stress. The study also found that short-term stress can help push the brain to an optimal condition. This means that the brain is forced to focus better and reach its highest potential. During the study, the rats’ brains improved because stem cells made new nerve cells. Scientists believe the same thing is happening in human brains under stress.

A good example of this short-term stress forcing one to focus better is when you are down to the final hours to finish a project, homework or something else that has an approaching deadline. Usually, one puts everything else aside and puts laser focus on the task at hand. In turn, this stress also provides motivation. It forces you to reevaluate your deadlines and motivates you to take action to finish your tasks on time. In essence, this short-term stress forces one to take charge of the situation. Providing the motivation to stop procrastinating and “get ‘er done” as the saying goes

Another benefit is how stress can fortify resilience. We become more understanding and flexible. The idea that stress can make you stronger is true. Researchers believe that surviving short-term stress helps build emotional and mental resources.

Believe it or not, it can even improve your immune system. A study, titled “Stress-induced redistribution of immune cells - from barracks to boulevards to battlefields: a tale of three hormones,” found that stress can helps the immune system. Our immune system responds to stress by going into active mode. Researchers believe this developed over time to protect humans. Evolution allowed people to stay strong and healthy under stress.

If you feel your body and mind are under stress, it can remind you that it’s time to re-evaluate what’s going on in your life. Stress can be a reminder that you need to make changes or just slow down. Stress can be a warning sign before serious health or life issues arise. Take the time to reflect on your concerns about family, friends, work, and your various obligations, when you feel you’re under constant pressure. Your stress could be telling you that things may need to be adjusted, so you’re not overwhelmed.

Finally, stress can strengthen our relationships. Stress makes the body release a hormone called oxytocin, which impacts bonding behavior, the creation of group memories, social recognition, and other social functions. Basically, this hormone makes us feel like bonding with others and sharing our whoas. This can help us build stronger bonds with those we love by encouraging the sharing of troubles instead of letting them consume the mind.

Constant, extreme stress is undoubtedly harmful. However, understanding and appreciating the fact that some stress has its benefits, can advantageously affect your body and mind in a variety of ways ranging from motivation to brain activity and in turn help us lead more balanced inspired lives.

Love & Light,
Dawn-Marie

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