Stress: when is it bad and when is it good?
Most people hear the word stress and immediately associate it with something negative. In reality, we NEED stress in our lives. Having stressors in our lives (exercises is actually a form of stress) is how our body adapts and grows. It actually helps to improve our health and immunity more often than not.
Here’s how it works: stress tells our body that we care. It’s the cue to our body that optimizes our nervous, cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine systems to meet the inevitable demands of life.
So if stress is good for us, why is there such a negative connotation with it? Well, the key to stress being a positive thing is the ability to recover from it.
If we look at exercise as a stressor, if we are constantly working out and not fueling properly, sleeping properly, and resting enough, our body will start to break down. However, the same amount of exercise with proper recovery can have a very positive effect on the body. The key is the ability to recover. The same goes for any other type of stress in our lives, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional.
When stress becomes a negative is when we are in a chronic state of stress. Chronic exposure to stress without the opportunity to recover from it results in effects like elevated cortisol levels, elevated resting heart rate, and more.
It’s not the stress, it’s how we respond to it. Having the skills to modulate your stress response INDEPENDENTLY of what’s happening around you is the key to keeping stress as an advantageous thing in your life.
So, how do you do that? Here are some ways you can help manage stress:
- Daily Walking
- Quality time with loved ones
- Physically demanding hobbies
- Unplugging from social media
A huge takeaway here is that stress is not inherently negative and you have control over how you respond to it!