Yes, you read it right: believe it or not, stress can be a good thing.

We all know stress is bad for you. We’ve heard it over and over that stress is one of many factors that contributes to health problems and aging. Just thinking about stress, stresses you out! There are two kinds of stress, each with different effects on the mind and body. Acute stress is ‘on-the-spot’ stress such as giving a speech or almost getting into a car accident. This type of stress can be beneficial because the hormones released help your mind and body deal with the situation. Chronic stress results from repeated exposure to situations that lead to the release of stress hormones. An excess release of stress hormones can lead to high cholesterol and depletion of cortisol, which help regulate the balance of salt and water in your body.

Benefits of Stress

Stress is part of everyday life. Whether we try to avoid it or not, it’s impossible to not have any. Have no fear, here are actually five benefits of stress (moderate level) :

Increases Focus

Stress increases cortisol and adrenaline levels in your body, improving your ‘fight or flight’ reaction. This is the feeling you get when you’re in a dangerous situation in which your body is trying to protect you. Many people seem to function better when slightly stressed. Adrenaline can both improve attention, focus and cognitive functioning at optimal levels.

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Strengthens Your Mind

Learning how to cope with stressful situations, can make future ones seem easier to manage. Repeated exposure to moderate levels of daily stress can enhance both a physical and psychological sense of control and resilience – strengthening your mind.

Grows Confidence

Stress can build confidence. When you learn how to successfully manage stressful situations, you can build the confidence that no matter what situation you face, you’re able to take it head on. Stress makes you mentally stronger and prepares you to handle everything that life throws your way. For instance, Navy SEALs undergo extreme stress during training in order to achieve a sense of physical and psychological control under intense situations. As a result, in the field they achieve resilience and confidence through repeated exposures to stress.

Boosts Brainpower

Moderate stressors stimulate the production of brain chemicals called neurotrophins. Neurotrophins guide the development of the nervous system. They are a family of proteins that signal particular cells to grow and survive. In fact, this may be the primary mechanism by which exercise helps boost productivity and concentration. Studies have shown that your body’s response to stress can temporarily boost memory and cognitive thinking.

Drives You to Succeed

Stress can put you in a state of heightened awareness. The key to managing stress is to view it as a challenge rather than an overwhelming, inpassable road block.

In sum, stress is beneficial in moderation. If you suffer from chronic stress, continue to feel overwhelmed, are feeling hopeless or having trouble getting through your daily routine, seek the counsel of a licensed medical provider such as a psychologist. Psychologists are trained to help you develop strategies to manage stress effectively and make behavioral changes to help improve your overall health.

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