Recent studies have shown that when you look at stress from a more optimistic view it can have a positive effect on your health. When we encounter stress our body reacts by producing different hormones, preparing for a “fight or flight”. However, nowadays the likelihood of being in a life-threatening scenario has significantly decreased from centuries ago. The more likely stresses of modern society include traffic jams and finishing assignments on time.
Stress Is Not Always A Negative thing
Stress itself is not actually a bad thing for us, it is the perception of the stress that can cause the negative effect. This is an extremely useful discovery to remember when you next encounter a stressful situation. If we can train our mind to think that the stress we are encountering is positive, then the negative effects will be significantly reduced.
Scientists from a handful of universities examined the different effects of stress on 300 investment bankers who had just emerged from a round of layoffs. In the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, scientists divided the participants into two groups, and tried to alter the perception of half of them to view stress as debilitating and the other half to view it as an enhancement.
The first half of the participants were shown videos of people succumbing to stress. The other half were shown videos of people meeting challenges, such as sports figures accomplishing a difficult goal. The results showed that those who had a more optimistic view of stress had fewer health problems and performed better at work than the pessimistic group.
Stress In Moderation Can Be Positive
As the results show, there is definitely a positive effect of stress altered by the way we perceive the situation. This positive stress is called eustress and in moderation can be extremely positive for our health. Eustress can improve our cognitive functions and boost our immune system, leading to an overall healthier feel to our lifestyle. However, the stress that we need to look out for is the long-term emotional stress. This stress can lead to many negative health problems, such as high blood pressure and it has also been linked with many heart problems. Although, if we consider the stress we encounter as a challenge, rather than a setback, then we can experience much more positive stress, which in turn will help to improve our overall health and wellness.
For Your Health,
Dr. Joseph Gambardella, Dr. Todd Brown and Dr. Benjamin Erb