Is Stress Good for You? We Investigate

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Nov 8, 2021
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“I’m so stressed at the moment, it’s brilliant” - said nobody, ever. 

Stress isn’t fun, so it is easy to see why it is commonly referred to in a negative way. In fact, being stressed is often exclusively seen as a bad thing and we often find ourselves looking for ways to relieve stress whenever possible. 

But is it really that bad? 

After all, if stress is really awful - why don’t we all find very easy jobs that pay enough to cover our basic needs and then spend the rest of our time sitting on the sofa watching TV? Surely that would be the most stress-free way to live in modern society?

Whether we care to admit it or not - most of us seek out stress or at least seek out the results of stressful situations. 

Little would have been achieved by the human race if stress had been avoided at all costs. Countries wouldn’t have been discovered, medicines wouldn’t have been developed and stunning pieces of art would never have been created. 

In this article, we are going to investigate stress and ask whether it is ever really a good thing. 

Is Stress Good for You? 

In certain circumstances and at certain levels stress can be positive. This is because when the body is subjected to stress it can actually push you to new levels of alertness,behavioral and cognitive performance.

So, when applied correctly, stress can help us achieve things that we may not be able to achieve when not subjected to stress.

But knowing which types of stress is good and which type is bad can be a little more tricky. There is no hard and fast rule on what is good stress, as it will differ from person to person and situation to situation. 

For example, where one person may thrive under the pressures of a fast-paced sales job, another may crumble. Equally, one person may love working in sales for several years, then suddenly become demotivated and stressed at any point.

The type of stress also plays a big role in whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Chronic stress, defined as “the physiological or psychological response to prolonged internal or external stressful events” will have a negative impact on your health and has been linked to skin problems, smaller brain size, chronic disease and unhealthy eating. 

On the other hand, acute stress (short-lived stress) CAN be positive if applied in the right situations.In fact, one study on rats showed that brief stressful events caused stem cells in their brains to proliferate into new nerve cells - which eventually led to improved mental performance.  

When Can Stress be Good? 

Here are some examples of when stress can be good:

  • Pushing yourself to achieve a physical goal such as running a certain distance or lifting a certain weight
  • Competing in a sport such as football, rugby or golf 
  • Competing in mental challenges such as quizzes 
  • Working towards academic achievements such as earning a degree
  • Improving performance at work to increase income or get a promotion 
  • Working with your partner to improve your marriage
  • Bringing up a child 

As you can see, good stress typically has two characteristics: 

  1. It is short-lived or has a clear end
  2. It contributes to achieving a desirable outcome 

On the other hand, bad stress has the opposite characteristics:

  1. It has no clear end and can last for a long time 
  2. There is no goal, or the end goal is not a positive one

Here are a couple of examples of where bad stress typically occurs:

  • Working in a stressful, dead-end job with no prospect for promotion 
  • Getting divorced 
  • The death of a loved one
  • Injury or illness
  • Being in an abusive relationship 


How Can You Manage Stress Levels?

Although there are‘good’ types of stress, that doesn’t make the stress easy to deal with.Introducing a few mechanisms to help you cope will make it easier to cope with good stress: 

  • Writing down your goals and reminding yourself of them when you become stressed
  • Talking with loved ones about your concerns and worries 
  • Using tools such as Melo  to help you remain in control of your breathing, thoughts and to practice mindfulness
  • Taking a break and stepping away from the stressful situation

Stress: Is it Good for You? 

It is clear that stress can be good for you. This is especially true where you will benefit from increased alertness and cognitive function. However, it is important to find ways to manage your stress, even when that stress is acute as it is can still be challenging.

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TheaWellbeing and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material on is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health-related programs.