PART 3 - WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT STRESS - A SIMPLE EXPLANATION


THE GOOD SIDE OF STRESS


Good stress is vital for a healthy life.


THE UPSIDES OF STRESS


Here are some upsides to experiencing a little bit of stress.

  • Stress enhances motivation;

  • Stress can build resilience and encourage growth;

  • Stress can promote bonding;

  • Stress is part of a meaningful life


STRESS HELPS TO IMPROVE COGNATIVE FUNCTION

Unless you’re at the funfair and about to experience the rollercoaster, you might not enjoy that panicky feeling in the pit of your stomach. On the other hand, if this feeling occurs in response to moderate stress levels, the upside is that the pressure and nervousness you feel can potentially boost your brain’s performance. This is because moderate stress strengthens the connection between neurons in your brain, improving memory and attention span, and helping you become more productive.


In one study, researchers at the University of Berkeley found that in lab rats “brief stressful events caused the stem cells in their brains to proliferate into new nerve cells” resulting in increased mental performance after two weeks.


Better brain performance explains why many people, including me, work better when under stress.


If you doubt the health benefits of stress on your brain, do a self-evaluation of your performance on days when you’re experiencing a higher amount of stress at work. You may discover that you’re more focused and productive than on low-stress days.


STRESS HELPS AVERTING A COLD

The fight-or-flight response felt when stressed is designed to protect,, whether it’s from injury or another perceived threat. What’s interesting about low doses of the stress hormone is that it also helps protect from infections. Moderate stress stimulates the production of a chemical called interleukins and gives the immune system a quick boost to protect against illnesses — unlike its evil twin, chronic stress, which lowers immunity and increases inflammation.


STRESS HELPS TO TOUGHEN YOU UP

How many times has a client said “I hate everything about stress. I hate the way it makes me feel, and I hate how stressful situations consume my mind — even if it’s only for a few hours”. Remember that on the flip-side, stress has helped us to become a stronger.


There’s no denying how going through a tough situation builds resiliency. When something is experienced for the first time, a natural instinct is to think it’s the worst situation ever; we crumble because we don’t know how to cope. But as different situations are confronted and various problems overcome, training to deal with similar incidents in the future is actually taking place.


Just think about a tough situation you’ve dealt with in the past. How did you handle the stress when it first happened? Now, fast-forward to the present. Have you dealt with a similar situation recently? If so, did you handle the problem differently the second time around?

In all likelihood, you did, because you knew what to expect and you understood the possible outcomes, you probably felt a greater sense of control. And because of this, you didn’t give up or crack under pressure. This is how stress made you stronger.


STRESS HELPS TO ENHANCE CHILD DEVELOPMENT

Women who dealt with severe depression and anxiety during their pregnancies and gave birth prematurely or had babies with low birth weights. It’s true that elevated stress levels can have a negative impact on both mother and baby. As such, most expecting mothers do everything humanly possible to stay healthy and minimize stress and anxiety while pregnant.

Although chronic stress can negatively affect pregnancy, the good news is that moderate levels of normal stress during pregnancy won’t harm a baby. A 2006 Johns Hopkins study followed 137 women from mid-pregnancy to their children’s second birthdays. The study found that babies born to women who experienced mild to moderate stress during pregnancy had more advanced early developmental skills by the age of 2 than babies born to unstressed mothers.


Of course, this study doesn’t suggest that a stress filled life is good whilst pregnant.

But if periodic everyday stresses may help with the baby’s development.