Some Stress Can Be Good for Your HealthThere are plenty of reasons why stress has a bad reputation. Studies have linked it to weight gain, heart attacks, and chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

However, a study led by Kirstin Aschbacher, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, has determined some stress might actually protect us from some of the effects of aging.

This surprising conclusion is echoed by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Real Cause, Real Cure, who contends that small doses of stress can improve both our cognitive function, and our overall health.

Lisa Evans, a contributor to Entrepreneur, outlined these experts’ tips on using stress to our “health advantage."

How Some Stress Can Be Good for Your Health

Evaluate the Type of Stress You Experience

Part of the fun of an extreme sport like skydiving is the fight-or-flight response “that releases the hormones called cortisol and adrenalin for a surge of energy.” When you feel stress in less extraordinary circumstances, Teitelbaum advises, ask yourself whether the stress you’re experiencing “feels good or bad.”

“Some people do best under a deadline,” he says. “For them, it may be the only time they can function. For others, it’s the only time they can’t function.”

Stimulate Your Brain With an Adrenalin Rush

For most people, the imminent prospect of speaking before an audience will cause an adrenalin rush—which is a good thing. The release of this hormone “increases alertness and awareness and can improve memory and cognitive functioning.” It may also explain why some people claim to think better on their feet.

Keep the Stress Short-lived

Prolonged stress suppresses our immune function, leaving us vulnerable to serious illness. On the other hand, stress for a brief time-frame (“an hour or two”) can be beneficial. Aschbacher’s study determined that “small amounts of stress reduces damage to DNA and RNA” and can, with the introduction of cortisol, “improve immune function when released in small quantities.”

Give Yourself Time to Recuperate

The health benefits of stress are comparable to exercise, says Aschbacher. Exercise places “a certain amount of physiological stress” on our bodies. Then we take a break so our tissues can recuperate, “and our bodies actually become stronger through that process.” As with exercise, it’s important to build in some recuperation time afterwards.

Limited amounts of stress can have surprisingly valuable health benefits. The key, says Teitelbaum, is to look at stress in terms of “sprints, not marathons.” If you feel stress during your workday, give yourself time to “de-stress,” so your body can recover its vital stress-response system.

How do you handle stress in your daily life?

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