Is stress ever good, useful, or necessary?

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Is stress ever good, useful, or necessary?

Who has not been exposed to periods of stress? Insomnia, loss of appetite, muscle tension, anxiety and irritability are just some of the symptoms that must be dealt with in these cases.

But if the organism is not subject to this situation in an excessive way, stress can be useful in certain occasions.

When the person is in a situation of risk, it is precisely this tension that activates a series of mechanisms in the body that allow him to react to face what he perceives as dangerous and not to remain paralyzed.

“Stress generates an explosion of hormones in the body, which are released so that the individual can handle threats or events that cause a lot of pressure, which is what is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response,” he explains. website of the Public Health System in the United Kingdom.

So, what’s so good about stress?

1.- Survival tool

In the case of a car accident or the attack of an animal, for example, the body initiates the “response to stress”, also known in medical terms as the General Adaptation Syndrome, described in 1950 in the British Medical Journal.

The first stage of this reaction is “alarm”. The heart and breathing are accelerated, and the nervous and endocrine systems are activated.

When this occurs, blood flow increases in the heart, lungs and brain, while decreasing to organs that are not very important in these situations, such as those that are part of the digestive and urinary systems.

In the second stage, of “resistance”, new hormones reinforce those that were released at the beginning of the process. This is how the body retains salts and water, in case the blood pressure drops because the person is bleeding. They also produce more carbohydrates, and those that are stored, are released more quickly in order to give the body more energy.

2.- It speeds up the cognitive functions and the response of the brain

According to research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, in the United States, stress, as long as it is not chronic, optimizes brain functioning.

“You always think that stress is bad, but a certain amount is good for getting the body to reach the optimal level of alertness and to operate in the best possible way,” said Daniela Kaufer, Berkeley professor and one of the study’s authors. to the university website.

He added: “Intermittent and stressful events are what keep the brain on alert, and the body always reacts better when it is alert.”

3.- Stimulates the immune system in the short term

In order for the body to defend itself against diseases and infections, it is necessary to have a healthy immune system, without a doubt.

But probably what you did not know is that stress can help the body fight bacteria.

“If you get sick, stress causes hormones to be generated in order to fight germs and the like,” explains Dr. John Whyte in an article published in The Huffington Post.

He adds: “This type of stress is particularly effective when the disease is beginning to develop, just when the body needs more help.”

4.- Strengthens the character

Studies cited in an article published by the American newspaper The New York Times point out that if people process stress with a positive approach, they can learn to manage their effects in a better way.

“Even the most traumatic and stressful events can help people to grow because it allows them to develop their mental strength, seek new perspectives and generate bonds with others,” says Alia Crum, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. in United States.

Being exposed to stressful situations and learning to handle them is useful to deal more easily and effectively with similar events that may arise in the future.

“There is a series of studies that support the science of resilience, the idea behind the military training that is received, for example, by the members of the special operations unit of the US military,” says Dr. Richard Shelton, Department of Psychiatry. of the University of Alabama Birmingham, in the USA, in an article of the American television network ABC News.

“The continuous exposure to stressful events gives the person the possibility of developing a sense of physical and psychological control, so that when they have to deal with similar situations they can react,” adds Shelton.

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