Stress Less

3 Science-Backed Reasons Stress Is Good for You


Wait, did someone say benefits of stress? No, we haven’t gone totally crazy.

To be clear, chronic stress is seriously everywhere in our modern, go-go-go world and is a major threat to your health. It causes inflammation (which is at the root of most diseases), leads to weight gain, messes with your sleep, and much more.

RELATED: A Simple Guide to the Science of Inflammation

But some stress—the acute, short-term kind—surprisingly can be a good thing in small doses.

We really wanted to remind you of this for one important reason: constantly talking about how bad stress is makes us stress about being stressed, which is just a vicious stress-feeding cycle and makes your head spin. (Right?!)

So, here, to help, are three reasons not to fall into that trap every single time you feel a little rush of anxiety.

3 Benefits of Stress

1. It can boost your brainpower…

Researchers say acute, short-term stress “primes the brain for improved performance,” by making you more alert. In one study using rats, short-lived stressful events caused brain stem cells in their brains to “proliferate into new nerve cells.” That may sound science-y, but it’s pretty obvious that “more brain cells” is never going to be a bad thing.

RELATED: 5 Foods for Brain Health

2. …and your memory

In that same study, the rats performed better on a memory test two weeks after the stressful event. More recent research on undergraduate students also showed a manageable level of anxiety may improve memory.

3. It can motivate you to do your best

Experts say the often talked-about fight-or-flight response is not the only way to react to stress. There’s also a “challenge response” that can motivate you to rise to the occasion. In the same vein, psych research has shown that the most effective goals are ones that are challenging (not the ones that vaguely encourage you to “do your best.”) The key is your mindset. You’ve got to see the stressor as a challenge you can meet, not a roadblock you’ll never be able to get past. Just think about when you’ve got an important deadline you really care about: that often adds a jolt of pressure that will lead you to work extra hard to really deliver.

Now that you know about these three benefits, don’t you feel calmer, already?


(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)

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