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Five Reasons Why Stress Might be Good

Update Date: Aug 23, 2014 12:24 PM EDT
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Stress has gotten a bad reputation for being unhealthy for the body and the mind. Evidence has suggested that too much stress, also known as chronic stress, can indeed be harmful to the body. However, since stress is inevitable, whether it caused by family complications or work tasks, learning how to manage and deal with it can be helpful.

Here are five reasons why some stress is good:

1. Stress can boost brainpower

Low levels of stress trigger the brain to produce neurotrophins, which help boost the connections between brain cells. These improved connections can lead to better productivity and creativity. Furthermore, in animal studies, researchers have reported that stress can also temporarily improve memory and learning abilities.

2. Stress can improve immunity

The body responds to stress by producing interleukins, which are chemicals responsible for regulating the immune system. Even though the extra interleukins are short-lived, for that moment, the body's ability to fight off infections is heightened.

Dr. Richard Shelton, MD, vice chair for research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, explained according to TIME, "When the body responds to stress, it prepares itself for the possibility of injury or infection."

3. Stress can make you more resilient

Dealing with stress and learning how to get through it can make people more resilient. After managing through one stressful event, going through another might feel relatively easier. Granted that high stress levels do not become chronic, repeated exposure can give the mind and body better control in future situations.

4. Stress can be a motivator

Some people thrive on stress. When limited by a deadline, the extra stress can become an encouragement. In order to use stress as a motivator, people have to be able to view stress as a challenge that they can overcome as opposed to a problem that they cannot fix.

"Think about a deadline: It's staring you in the face, and it's going to stimulate your behavior to really manage the situation effectively, rapidly, and more productively," said Dr. Shelton.

5. Stress can enhance child development

Pregnant women are often instructed to keep their stress levels at a minimum. Although too much stress can be detrimental for both mother and child, mild levels might actually be beneficial for the child's development. According to a 2006 John Hopkins study, the children of pregnant women who experienced mild to moderate levels of stress had better motor and developmental skills. The researches cautioned that if women who viewed their pregnancy as a negative experience, the stress levels might not be beneficial.

Stress management is extremely important for overall health. People who cannot handle stress on their own could benefit by seeking help.

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