Tuesday, November 4, 2014

7 ways stress can be good for you...

While chronic stress can damage your cognitive and physical health, these seven studies show how short-term or moderate stress can actually be healthy for your mind and body.

1. Lowers your risk of premature death — if you have the right attitude. A 2013 study found that participants who reported that they were under a lot of stress but didn’t feel that it affected their health had a lower risk for premature death than both those who perceived their stress as a health hazard, and those who felt barely any stress at all!

2. Boosts production of neurons that improve performance. In an animal study, putting mice under mild stress caused the release of stress hormones, which spurred the growth of new neurons. Two weeks later those new neurons appeared to improve the mice’s performance on learning tests.

3. Strengthens your immune system. Short bursts of stress cause the release of hormones which send a message to immune cells to go from a resting to a ready state — even before a wound or infection.

4. Makes you friendlier. In a 2012 study, participants were either put in a stressful or control situation and afterwards paired up to play a series of games. During game play, those who had recently been in the stressful situation showed more prosocial behaviors, like trust and sharing, than the control group.

5. Improves your ability to learn. After spending 60 seconds with their hands in a bucket of ice (a stressful condition), men performed better on learning tests than an unstressed group.

6. Improves your memory. Researchers found that the brains of rats put under a moderate amount of stress showed an increase in the neurotransmitter glutamine, which is known to improve working memory. In tests four hours later and one day later the stressed rats made fewer mistakes navigating a maze.

7. Gets you in touch with your instincts. A study required people to give a presentation, give a five minute interview and count backwards by 13 in front of a group of judges. The more stressed out participants reported being, the better they performed on a task where they had to ignore details and trust their instincts.