5 Ways Stress Is Good For You, Because Without It You Might Not Be Here To Feel It
Imminent deadlines, family responsibilities, and people on Instagram living their best life are all a great combination for stress. It is now easier than ever to compare ourselves to other people; how well they are doing at work, the holidays they can afford, and their achievements. The success of others is a good thing, but it can be super stress inducing when you're not in a good place. However you don't need to push that feeling away, as some experts say stress is good for you. Whilst not all forms of stress are beneficial or manageable, low level stress may actually be a positive thing in certain situations.
I am a chronic worrier. If I organise what is supposed to be a nice chilled day out, I will pretty much evaluate everything that could possibly go wrong in a bid to prevent it. Any confusion about public transport will set me off. Deadlines are a nightmare for me (which is rich considering the profession I chose), and heaven forbid someone texts me back saying “k.” Whilst stress can be crippling, a little bit may actually help you in life. Here are five ways stress is good for you, according to the experts.
1. It Helps You To Cope
Researchers have suggested that developing coping mechanisms for a little bit of stress is good for you because it makes you stronger and more capable of dealing with more stressful situations in the future, like a vaccine. A study conducted at UCLA and reported by Psychology Today concluded, “people with a history of some lifetime adversity reported better mental health and well-being outcomes than not only people with a high history of adversity but also than people with no history of adversity.”
2. It Pushes You Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Whilst it isn’t good to live life permanently on the edge, no one had any fun living in their comfort zone either. I know the feeling of standing in front of a group of people and attempting to read off a piece of paper, tongue tied with sweaty palms. Sometimes you need that little push to do something you want to do but are too afraid of. Just because you feel stressed or scared doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
On the Mental Health Foundation website it says, “sometimes, this stress response can be an appropriate, or even beneficial reaction. The resulting feeling of pressure can help us push through situations that can be nerve-wracking or intense, like running a marathon, or giving a speech to a large crown.”
3. It Motivates You To Get Things Done
Experts at University College Berkeley have found that small bursts of stress may actually kick your butt into gear. I know there has been more than one occasion where I have needed the stress that the eleventh hour often brings in order to get a task done. Associate Professor Daniela Kaufer wrote on the UC Berkeley News website, “some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioural and cognitive performance.”
4. It Helps You Spot Dangerous Situations
Whilst humans may have evolved, we still all have a fight or flight mechanism within us. Experts argue that without stress we might not actually be here to talk about stress (something I need to remember next time I am having a panic about missing the train.)
Angela Grippo wrote in Psychology Today “if our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not experience some stress when that lion was roaming around their sleeping quarters, or when those red berries looked good but also emitted a strange odour, they would have been eaten or poisoned. Hence, our ancestors experienced stress and used it to their advantage so that they could procreate, allowing us to have this discussion today."
5. It May Be Good For Your Health
Whilst a beating heart rate, sweaty palms, and inability to form coherent sentences may not feel that great, some experts have argued that learning how to deal with small amounts of stress may be better for you physically. Dr Kelly McGonigal works at Stanford University specialising in health psychology. She told the Telegraph that if you learn to cope with small amounts of stress you can train your body to calm down. She said, “when you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress. So rather than try to slow your pounding heart, you can view it as your body giving you energy, preparing you to meet the imminent challenge.”
I am not sure anyone particularly enjoys the feeling of being stressed, however research suggests that without it we may not even be here to talk about it. For all the nights fretting over work presentations, gifts for friends, or arguments with your significant other, in some cases it may be super beneficial to us. If you can learn to sit with that feeling of discomfort and harness its power, the world is your oyster.