7 Surprising Ways Some Stress is Actually Good for You

Stress in small doses can have some unexpected advantages.

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Believe it or not, some stress is actually good for you. In fact, your body is naturally wired to handle normal everyday stressors.

There are actually two types of stress, the one that is labeled by scientists as eustress is 'good' stress. Some positive life experiences can cause short-term stress, like getting a new job, going to college or having a baby. This type of stress allows your natural flight or fight defenses to kick in and allows you to not only cope with the situation but to benefit as well.

Of course, chronic stress, or distress, is bad stress, and detrimental for your health and mental wellbeing and should be avoided as much as possible. Small amounts of good stress, on the other hand, have some surprising health benefits.

1. Stress Improves Brain Performance

A study at the University of California Berkley found that some amounts of stress push you to optimal alertness and improve cognitive performance. Stress caused the stem cells in the test subjects to form new nerve cells that make brains work better. So, some stress at your job can increase productivity and creativity. Remember that when you have a looming deadline.

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2. It Helps Protect You From Getting Sick

The body's flight or fight mechanism is designed to protect you from injury or any other perceived threat. A study at Stanford showed that moderate stress stimulates the production of interleukins that boost your body's immune system and helps you fight off illnesses. So, if you are apprehensive about going to the doctor or getting an injection, that stress can actually help you get better faster or make an immunization more effective.

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3. You Become More Resilient

There is some truth to the statement that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The more moderate stress you successfully handle makes it easier for you to cope with stress, good or bad, later. That's because you've trained yourself on how to manage stressors and you will remember them because…

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4. Stress Improves Your Memory

This is directly related to your improved brain performance. When your brain cell connections multiply, your memory improves. In nature, animals who remember stressful situations like almost getting eaten helps them remember how to avoid being in the same situation again, according to the UC Berkley researchers.

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5. Stress Helps You Focus and Improves Learning

The surge of energy that you get during short-term stress is designed to help you stay focused. Kathleen Gunthert, a professor of psychology at American University told Time Magazine that “Medium levels of stress can enhance our motivation." This can make you be motivated to study more and focusing allows you to learn more. That's why cramming for exams works.

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6. Stress During Pregnancy Can Make Your Kids Smarter

study at Johns Hopkins University showed that the children of mothers who were mildly or moderately stressed during pregnancy were smarter and more advanced at age two than the control group. So, a little bit of stress during pregnancy will not harm your baby and could actually help you create a Little Einstein.

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7. Moderate Stress Is Good for Your Mental Health

Modest amounts of stress can actually strengthen your mental health. Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today said that experiencing manageable stressors with recovery in-between can make you mentally tougher. She wrote that experiencing small amounts of stress make us stronger, more tolerant and better able to tolerate and adapt to life's difficulties. That’s good mental health in a nutshell.

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