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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

Can Stress Be Good For You?

Stress usually gets a negative press, but can some types of stress actually be good for us? That’s what psychologists believe. Here’s a look at the many different ways that stress can impact on our minds and bodies.

How is stress defined?

Stress is often classified alongside other conditions such as anxiety and depression, and these can be made worse by episodes of stress. However, stress has its own definition and causes.

The World Health Organisation states: “Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree.”

Not many people actively describe stress as enjoyable, but in fact when we ride on a zipwire or compete in a sporting event, we are deliberately seeking out a stressful situation for mental reward. This type of stress causes the heart rate to quicken and a surge of adrenaline, making us feel alive and excited.

Life without this type of stress would seem very flat and dull, and some people would find the lack of motivation drains all the energy and colour from their existence. That’s why it’s good to sometimes push ourselves out of our comfort zones and achieve new goals during our lifetime.

Scientists call this moderate or ‘good’ stress ‘eustress’(the opposite of ‘distress’). It can give us the drive to attend a job interview, sit an exam, move house, or even start a new business. It may even help to protect the body against oxidative damage, which is linked to faster ageing and increased susceptibility to disease.

We have all had the experience of suddenly gaining clarity and focus when we are up against a deadline or in a difficult situation. This is the type of stress that can give us a helping hand when we need it, and it builds up our resilience as we learn just what we are capable of handling.

However, there is a tipping point when we are exposed to more stress than we can comfortably handle. This might happen when someone has a difficult home life or an overly demanding job. Chronic stress can be overwhelming and lead to both mental and physical health problems.

When the body becomes locked into a permanent state of fight or flight, it can make relaxation very difficult and may lead to symptoms including anxiety, poor concentration, headaches, irritability, fatigue, muscle tension, and poor sleep.

It is possible to overcome or learn how to manage chronic stress with the right approach or treatment. Everyone is different and the causes of their stress will be unique, so there is no one size fits all solution.

For some people, eating well and getting more exercise makes a big difference. Others may benefit from a creative outlet such as painting or music. Learning some mindfulness and meditation techniques can also be a very effective way to manage stress.

If you would like to work with a Harley Street hypnotherapist, please get in touch with us today.

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