“Aiyah! Stressed la!!” – probably a sentence that we’ve all heard at some point of our lives. Stress. Generally, not a good word to hear or for us to want to be associated with.
We’ve all heard how stress can be bad for our bodies. We did a previous article on how stress has negative effects on our bodies. Besides those effects stated in that article, stress also had been linked to heart attacks, hair loss, acne, gastrointestinal discomfort, insomnia, high blood pressure and more.
However, stress is not necessarily the enemy. In fact, there has been some research that stress can actually help you live better as well. One just needs to know how to turn stress into benefiting our bodies and how to make it work for you.
Here are 7 Weird Ways Stress Benefits You:
1. Stress fends off colds
When stress comes upon you, your body will most likely work overtime to accommodate you and to help you adjust to the situation. That’s because stress is helpful to inject your immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria since it’s the stress regulating adrenal glands that balance immunity. The glands produce cortisol, which acts as an anti inflammatory to both physical and emotional stressors.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can go overboard and get stressed out and not worry about it. Stress helps in short bursts and in short-term. It is harmful to the body in the long-term. When stress levels stay high in your body for longer than a few hours, it can exhaust your adrenal glands, thus, making you prone to falling ill.
2. Stress can speed recovery
Going for any surgical procedure can be very stressful. But the short-term stress of surgery can work in your favour because it helps you heal faster. Biological changes that take place during short-term stress are the brain’s way of preparing the body to take what is ahead or what hour body is already experiencing.
Stress hormones surge through the body and thus, like how it can help fend off colds, it will help get the body ready for fast healing. It triggers the body’s immune system to prepare to “fight” whatever your body is fighting against and this helps boost healing in the skin and lymph nodes.
3. Stress can help you bond
According to the The Stress Institute and The Mindful Living Network, stress can motivate you to reach out to others when you’re feeling stressed. Short term stress has been shown to boost oxytocin which is also known as the “bonding hormone”.
Oxytocin inhibits the production of stress hormones such as adrenalin and reduces blood pressure by dilating the arteries to help protect the body and evade the negative effects of anxiety.
4. Stress may boost vaccines
Some people experience a feeling of light-headedness when they have to deal with needles. A study from the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology showed that when the body is stressed, it may have “protective powers”.
The study was done on acutely stressed mice and it was compared to a non-stressed control group. The study showed that when the stressed mice were getting a vaccine, they had higher numbers of disease fighting memory T-cells and a larger immune response overall.
5. Stress enhances memory
When one is in a stressful situation, sometime you may find that your mind is extremely self-aware and sharp. That’s the rush of hormones to the brain (prefrontal cortex) which is important for controlling cognition and emotion. This may boost your working memory and can help in problem solving and processing sensory information.
Researchers say that acute stress helps improve overall recall. Acute stress aids key brain receptors that are important for the type of memory that helps you manage the task at hand.
6. Stress can boost resiliency
Stress as we all know can already create havoc in our bodies. However, during times of trials and difficulties, it can actually be quite character building. When we encounter stressful situations, be it at work or of a personal nature, stress levels go on a rise. Sometimes, emotional stress can be more draining than physical stress.
During that period of difficulty, one may find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel but the feelings of stress can make you change certain things in your life, making you want to do better.
7. Stress can help you decipher emotions
We need to learn to listen to the signs in our bodies. For e.g. if you have a stiff neck, it can be sign of inflexibility or when your shoulders are tense, it could mean that you may be taking on too much.
Another example is when you have to make a quick decision or to meet a deadline, stress can actually heighten your senses. It can sharpen your vision, gives you a sudden boost of strength and energy to complete the task, helps you focus and get the job done.
These are ways our bodies react to stress and if you are familiar with your body’s signals, you will be able to recognise emotions responsible for your stressful conditions. And when you know them, you will be able to manage them, making it work for you instead of working against you.
Stress in response to an emergency helps you handle a crisis. So the next time you’re in a stressful situation, such as finding yourself inside the elevator alone with the big boss, or that you’ve made a boo-boo at work and have to face the music, tell yourself that this uncomfortable moment may be actually be a positive factor for your health. Yes, it may sound a bit weird, but it’s true.