When stress works in our favor

While you may be feeling the psychological stress and pressure of a looming deadline at work, that stress can actually be beneficial for your brain, according to a new scientific study from the University of Georgia’s Youth Development Institute. So here’s when stress works in our favor.

Beneficial stress VS excessive stress

The study, published in Psychiatry Research, found out that low to moderate levels of stress can help people build resilience. And reduce the risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression and antisocial behaviour.

Low to moderate anxiety can also help individuals cope with future stressors or stressful situations.

“If you’re in an environment where you experience some level of stress, you may develop coping mechanisms that allow you to become more effective and efficient in any area. Make you more organized,” notes the study’s lead author and associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The stress that comes from studying for an exam, preparing for a big meeting at work, or working on something for longer in effort to meet a deadline can potentially lead to personal growth.

Rejection by a publisher, for example, can make a writer reconsider his writing style.

But there is a fine line between the right amount and too much stress.

When does it work in your favor?

The analyzed data says that, “low to moderate levels of stress are psychologically beneficial, potentially acting as a kind of inoculation against the development of mental health symptoms,” the experts point out.

“Most of us have had some adverse experiences that made us stronger. There are specific experiences that can help you evolve or develop skills that will prepare you for the future”, they add. But the ability to tolerate stress and adversity varies greatly from person to person.

Things like age, genetic predisposition, and having a supportive social network (family, friends) to lean on in times of need all play a role in how well individuals handle challenges.

While a little stress can be good for cognitive function, experts warn that continued high levels of stress can be incredibly damaging. Both physically and mentally.

“At a certain point, stress becomes toxic. Chronic stress, such as stress resulting from traumatic events and situations, can have very bad health and psychological consequences.

It affects everything from your immune system and emotional regulation to brain function. “Not all stress is good,” they conclude.


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