Get “Enough” Stress: It’s Good for You!
By John Teng
Stress. Sooner or later it takes a hold of every one of us. It can make us feel overwhelmed and out of control. It can raise our blood pressure and make us sick. But there’s something else stress can do: it can thrust us forward in life, giving us the energy, motivation and yes, ability to tackle the world. In other words: stress can be good for us.
We have been conditioned to view stress as bad. All we hear is the bad news about stress:
- Causes 80% of all major health problems
- Keeps us from healing from injury and illness
- The reason why 90% of us make a doctor’s appointment
- Costs $300-plus billion a year
It is true; stress can play havoc with our physical and emotional well being. High levels of prolonged stress will make you sick. But that doesn’t mean that all stress is bad. It isn’t.
Stress is completely natural – and necessary. It is a biochemical reaction caused by the body to help us face life’s challenges. Best known as the fight or flight response, stress results in a rush of chemicals released by the adrenal system when the body feels threatened. It is that quickened heart rate and increased awareness when you walk alone in a dark parking lot. Stress is also the body’s way of protecting itself from germs and bacteria. When something invades the body that can make you sick, your immune system reacts by releasing fighter cells to attack the perpetrator before they can do any damage. Stress is also that overwhelming feeling that can make you irritable, anxious and just plain mad when life seems to be spinning out of your control. This is the dangerous kind of stress that, if left unattended, can cause health and emotional issues.
But let’s look closer at the first two stress reactions discussed. They are what keep you on high alert when facing a dangerous situation, and keeps your body healthy when it is ripe for attack. These types of stress can help you overcome challenges and move forward in life.
The right kind of stress can actually make you a happier person, according to Emmett Miller MD, author of the 10-Minute Stress Manager. In his book, Dr. Miller explains how life feels more fulfilling when a person meets obstacles and overcomes them. A certain amount of cortisol-releasing stress can help you do that. The key to managing your stress is not to avoid it altogether, but to limit it to more natural levels.
People who experience no stress at all in life simply aren’t happy. We all need the charge we get when faced with a challenging experience. That’s what makes life exciting. Overcoming challenges gives us courage, strength and keeps us feeling more vibrant.
So, the next time you feel the tug of stress, don’t fight it. Accept that stress and use it to learn … overcome … and succeed. Yes, stress can be good, so enjoy all that it has to teach you!
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