You have trouble losing weight, you’ve been dealing with hair fall, and your blood pressure is uncomfortably high. And it’s all because of that dratted S-word that keeps popping up everywhere. Your local gym, salon, spa, even your workplace can’t stop reminding you (while advertising their own methods to combat it) -- stress is terrible for you!
What wouldn’t you give to be entirely stress-free, right?
Actually, that isn’t the best thing for your professional life or for your health. It turns out that a certain amount of stress is not only harmless, but also good for you in the long run.
A small amount of intense, non-chronic stress is very good for improving brain function and performance. Stress is what makes you spring to action in any situation, and provides you with the motivation to accomplish any task.
When the mind is presented with any sort of conflict, or any obstacle in the path of achieving a desired goal, it creates anxiety. This anxiety triggers a flight-or-fight response that releases hormones like cortisol, corticosterone, and adrenaline. These hormones, when released into the bloodstream, fire off nerve endings necessitating action to deal with the problem at hand. Your heartbeat is amped up, your reflexes become sharper, your brain becomes more alert, and your immunity is heightened. In the long run, even memory improves.
These responses are what help you avoid any potentially dangerous situation-- like moving out of the way of a speeding vehicle to prevent collision, or running away from someone chasing you.
The stress hormones basically give your brain a turbo-boost and tell your body to act faster and more efficiently. This is of course a survival trick that has evolved over millennia, and even though you may no longer need to escape fierce predators in a jungle, this is a very useful response.
In day to day functioning, whenever the mind encounters a potentially problematic situation, the stress response is triggered and you are physically better prepared to deal with the situation at hand. This is enormously helpful at the workplace or even during a personal emergency. You have that extra push you needed to deal with any challenge that appears.
Much like that final burst of speed that propels an athlete to the finish line, stress ensures that you are motivated enough to meet deadlines and accomplish set goals.
The complete absence of stress makes life and work monotonous and unexciting. Adrenaline junkies engage in death-defying stunts as they strive to recreate that very rush that you feel in a stressful situation.
The problem arises when there is too much stress. Intense stress for long periods of time adversely affects health and mental processes. The same biological processes that were amplified begin to deteriorate-- blood pressure, immunity, digestion, reflexes, emotional state-- making you jumpy, irritable, sluggish, and downright inefficient. Much like everything else out there, stress works best in moderation. Too much of a good thing is never good for you.
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