Stress is a word most people cringe at. People believe that stress is pure evil and does harm to your body. However, Jacob Teitelbaum, medical director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and Chronicity, says, “Stress is a very healthy thing, because it gives you the energy you need to live life.”
“Without it, you wouldn’t have the energy you need to take action,” he added. The anxious feelings that come from stress actually push your body to react when it needs to. For example, if you are about to get hit by a car, your body will move quickly to get out of the way in a hurry.
According to Dr. Teitelbaum, “It’s when stress becomes excessive and lasts for long periods of time, and when your body doesn’t release it through physical activity or emotional reactions, that it becomes unhealthy.”
There are two kinds of stress: distress and eustress. Distress is stress in your lives that can have a negative balance on your health, while eustress is stress that presents an opportunity for growth. An example would be getting butterflies before attempting a game-winning free throw.
Having balance when it comes to stress is important. Long periods of stress can affect not only your body but also your mind. The little things like nerves before a speech or an important interview are essential to your body.
Stress also helps your body do things like prevent against colds and the flu. If you’re stressed for a short period of time, your body will work overtime to keep you well, thus aiding your immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria since it’s the stress-regulating adrenal glands that balance immunity.
Stress can also enhance your memory and ability to comprehend things. The rush of hormones to the brain that acute stress causes actually increases your brains capacity. Researchers say acute stress helps facilitate key brain receptors that are essential for the type of memory that can help you better figure out the task at hand.
Surprisingly, stress actually enables you to bond with others more easily. Short-term stress boosts levels of oxytocin which is coincidentally the drug that increase our ability to bond, says Kathleen Hall, Ph.D, founder of The Stress Institute. “Oxytocin actually inhibits the production of stress hormones such as adrenaline and reduces blood pressure by dilating the arteries to help buffer the body from the more negative effects of anxiety.”
Even though stress may seem like a downer, it actually may improve certain things about you. It is important to embrace little moments of stress but also to steer clear of the things that keep you stressed for extended periods of time.