When Stress Can Be Good For You

Not all stress is bad – here are 5 examples of occasions when stress can be good for you:

1.   Recovering from surgery. Going under the knife is stressful. But the short-term stress of surgery can work in your favor by actually helping you to heal faster. In nature, wounds usually happen following stressful situations, such as when a gazelle is being chased by a lion. Short-term stress hormones surge through the body in anticipation of the potential outcome–like the gazelle getting bit but managing to escape–and gets the body ready for the fast healing that will have to take place.

2.    Preventing colds and flu. If you’re feeling deadline pressure in the short-term, your body will most likely work overtime to keep you well. That’s because some stress is helpful to rev your immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria since it’s the stress-regulating adrenal glands that balance immunity.

3.    Increasing connections. Even if you’re not the type to actually embrace stress, it may motivate you more to reach out to others. In fact, short-term stress has been shown to boost levels of oxytocin, a.k.a. the bonding hormone.


4.    Enhancing memory. Have you ever been in a stressful situation where your mind felt super-aware and laser-sharp? It’s the rush of hormones to the prefrontal cortex (a brain region important for controlling cognition and emotion) that may boost your working memory, or the short-term kind used in speaking, problem solving and processing sensory information. 

5.    Toughening up. Whether you’re stressed because you lost your job or are having marital problems, those feelings could be life-changing–in a good way. Those of us who deal with misfortune are actually more well adjusted than those who’ve had no bumps in the road at all.