Health experts tend to emphasize how harmful stress can be when it comes to emotional and physical well-being. Chronic stress or bad stress is induced by repeatedly facing stressors that leave you feeling cornered. It can have a negative impact on the mind and body and can be detrimental to the immune system.
But what if all stress isn’t bad stress?
Believe it or not, there is good stress known to psychologists as “eustress” that positively affects your immune system. Examples of this eustress include riding a roller coaster, going on a first date, or traveling somewhere new.
How you respond to stress is the key to managing it. Stress is viewed as something that alters the body from homeostasis, which is inevitable. If you view it and use it positively, then there are a few key benefits such as:
- It strengthens emotional connection
When you are stressed, your brain releases a neurohormone called oxytocin. This hormone sends signals to the mind and body to tell others how you feel. When you reach out to others you care about, it builds human connection. These human connections reduce loneliness and help your heart cells regenerate. Connecting and caring for others creates resilience. Therefore, oxytocin can strengthen your heart as you connect emotionally with others.
- It reminds you that you are adaptable
The stress you feel when you have an internal push to do better, set goals, reach your potential, and achieve more can be valuable. This type of stress can instill resilience, enhance motivation, and stimulate you, providing feelings of excitement. Perhaps the stress you are experiencing is just the body reminding you that you care and are capable.
- It makes you physically stronger
Certain types of exercise will put your body under stress. Yet, you are left feeling stronger, healthier, more confident, and energized. During these conditions, your body experiences stress referred to as the fight or flight response, also known as the sympathetic response. This type of response was designed to protect you. The idea is that you do not apply this type of stress for too long or too often, which is why it is essential to switch up your exercise routine.
- It encourages you to change your narrative
Many people are under the impression that stress is wrong and that when you are stressed, it must mean something is dysfunctional. But what if the stress you are feeling is pushing you to go for it, step out of your comfort zone, and grow? This type of stress can teach you to have a positive mindset, see the silver lining, and be optimistic. That kind of mentality is infectious and will be an inspiration for others to do the same. Make friends with your stressors.
It’s not what you see but how you see it that matters. Embrace the stress that you’re feeling with compassion to increase oxytocin. You can thrive under stress if you make an effort to do so, which is much healthier than avoiding it. Good stress can act as a gateway to learning more about who you are and what you want.
You have the power to choose which kind of stress you allow into your life and how you integrate it. All of the goals you set for yourself, whether physical, financial, or professional, are all part of your reality. Each type of stress you feel will tell you something about yourself. What you do with that information is up to you.
The key is to identify and separate good stress from bad stress. When you learn to channel stress positively and mindfully, you can live a more sustainable life and teach others to do the same.