We hear it all the time - stress is bad for our health. It can increase blood pressure and cause symptoms such as insomnia and weight gain. But the "flight or fight" response we experience when stressed is our body's way of protecting us from danger, so it hasn't evolved to be harmful.
It's only when stress is long-term, and we feel that we can no longer control a situation, that it can harm our mental and physical health. If you constantly feel stressed and worried, Bach Flower Mix 71 can reduce anxiety and help you to feel in control again.
So rather than seeking a stress-free existence, take a glass-half-full approach and make stress work for you! Accept that a bit of stress can actually be good for us, benefitting our minds and bodies. Here are some reasons why short-term anxiety or "good stress" can make you healthier, stronger and more productive!
Short term stress strengthens the neuron connections in the brain by stimulating the production of neurotrophins, chemicals produced by the brain. An excellent example of this is exercise, which can help to boost concentration and increase productivity.
Psychological stresses have a similar motivating effect: many of us find that we can do our best work when a deadline looms. Plus, studies on animals suggest that stress responses can improve learning and memory scores.
A low dose of stress can help you to dodge colds - at least in the short term. As well as protecting you from injury or other external dangers, moderate stress also increases the production of interleukins, chemicals that play a crucial role in the body's immune system.
Your body is preparing to protect itself from injuries or infections, and this response gives a temporary boost to its defences. So next time your stress levels rise, remember that your anxiety could help your body resist any nasty bugs going around your office or school.
While you may hate feeling stressed and anxious, there's no doubt that learning to cope with challenging situations makes you stronger and more resilient. The first time you run up against a problem, you may struggle because you don't know how to deal with it. But the next time you confront a similar challenge, the resilience you gained from your previous experiences helps you feel in control and cope much better.
This is the idea behind some military training, where recruits are repeatedly exposed to shocks and stresses. Because they learn from the experiences and become more resilient, they are less likely to "freeze" when faced with an emergency situation.
The concept that repeated exposure to stress makes us stronger may be valid even at the level of cellular biology. Studies have found that while long term stress can damage the DNA and RNA in our cells, moderate stress seems to have a protective effect and enhances our resilience.
The secret is to see stress as a challenge to overcome rather than allowing it to overwhelm you. Sometimes we need the fight or flight response to kick in to get us started on a project. We've all been there: revising for an exam or preparing a presentation, we procrastinate until we're under time pressure.
Short term stress can also help you concentrate, whether in a creative endeavour, in a sport or at work. When you enter the state of "flow", your awareness is heightened, you're unaware of time passing, and you're entirely focused on the activity. As a result, your productivity and creativity are maximised; some psychologists believe this effect is primarily driven by the stress of wanting to succeed and achieve your full potential.
Mums-to-be sometimes worry that their anxiety will affect their babies if they're stressed, and it's true that unrelenting stress can have a negative effect. But studies have shown that children whose mothers experienced mild, short term stresses during their pregnancy had better developmental and motor skills at the age of two than the children of mothers who had not felt stressed at all.
Stress can help to grow relationships, which are the basis of mental and physical wellbeing. When people feel loved, appreciated and understood by a family member or friend, they feel less isolated.
Talking to family and friends can strengthen relationships. Supporting each other through tough times helps to build bonds that can last a lifetime. Support groups also allow people to talk about their anxieties with others who can relate to their difficulties, transforming a negative experience into positivity.
You might dream of a life that's stress-free, but in reality, a roses-and-sunshine existence might not be better. The things we achieve in life that we're most proud of are the most challenging and stressful, whether that's passing an exam, running a successful business or raising a family. If you take away stress, it's likely that you'll also take away the most meaningful parts of our lives.
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