We all experience stress at some point in our lives. It’s impossible to avoid it, even if it’s positive. Good stress can be something like being nervous before taking an exam or having to prepare for a big presentation at work. That type of stress can increase alertness, lead to better performance, even sharpen memory.
But that beneficial stress can quickly become detrimental, even surrounding the same circumstances. Moving into a new home is a positive, exciting event. But if you are relocating every year, or are being forced to move, those additional factors can create a negative stressful situation.
“If I’m anxious all the time, then of course that’s going to impact me physically. I may start having stomach problems or heart palpitations or sweat, or I may break out in a panic attack. Something good can turn into something stressful,” Martin explains.
Extensive research has been done on the harmful effects of stress, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, high blood pressure, and difficulty concentrating.
Experiencing good stress, however, may function as protection against some of these effects.
Good Stress Acts as a Vaccine
Experts say that moderate, manageable stress can act in a protective way against future stressors. It can function like a vaccine, equipping the body with the tolerance it needs against more taxing stress in the future.
“Certain types of stress in low to moderate levels can assist individuals to prepare, reorganize, and build up capacity to sustain future stress. It can also motivate us to learn and be vigilant about the future,” Dr. Oshri notes.
Coming through a stressful event successfully can also bolster your confidence when dealing with new stressors. That is a part of the positive impact on brain functioning.
“It helps us to create a narrative or a story within our hippocampus, our memory part, [and] gives us positive feedback,” Martin explains. “It changes our perceptions, it changes the way we see ourselves, [and] it changes the way we see others,” she states.
Succeeding at any type of challenge is just the motivation a person may need to conquer more difficult stress later. It gives the ideal way to look at the right kind of stress in a positive light.