Nothing in this life is absolute or totally what it seems. Everything has somehow another side of itself. For instance, evil has its touch of goodness; or cruelty has some kindness in it. So it is with stress which has been so demonized that the mere mention of it evokes a picture of someone who is the on the verge of mental collapse from tension.
However, every feeling and emotion innate to humans is there for a purpose, including stress. Tracing its origin in human evolution, it was among the factors responsible for the survival of our species. Stress triggered in our primitive ancestors the strength and stamina either to fight or to outrun their predators.
This advantage of stress remains to these days. It may not actually be used to physically fight predators but it helps to survive the emotional and mental adversaries of modern men and improve their lives.
The following instances prove how stress can be beneficial to you despite its bad reputation
: • Stress is a good indicator of the affect of situations on you. For example, a knotted stomach muscles may warn you that you are losing control of a situation. It may be time, therefore, for you to reassess the situation and to be on top of it. A stiff neck denotes inflexibility so you have to be more adaptable. Listen to others and weigh the pros and cons of their opinions instead of being stubbornly myopic in insisting your way. Tensed shoulders may indicate you may be over-exerting yourself beyond your natural capacity so learn how to let go. You may be taking on too much, or setting unrealistic expectations.
• Stress energizes you to handle crisis. It even provides you with instant power to make split-second decision in time of emergency. It makes your body reacts automatically to perceived dangers to get you out of tight situation you are trapped in. Your senses intensify, your muscles tighten ready to sprint, and your vision becomes laser-focused. This is how stress saved your primitive ancestors before and how your body is reacting now to the danger that faces you, whether it is physical, emotional, or mental
. • Stress helps promotes your life’s longevity. Studies conducted by Stanford University show that a small amount of stress triggers the redistribution of immune cells in your body like the white blood cells and different stress hormones such as epinephrine and corticoterone that fight diseases.
• Stress enhances your brain activities by promoting cell growth in the brain’s learning centres as proven by the research made at the University of California. This action of stress improves your mental ability to a certain degree.
• Stress urges you take action. This is shown by the feeling of restlessness when stressed so you start pacing around, unable to stay put to a spot. Hence, people usually exercise more intensely or keeps on walking while conducting a meeting. Stress is a very effective antidote to procrastination.
• Stress helps in the formation of habits. Just as the bad habits of nail-biting and foot-juggling can be attributed to stress, so are good habits like rising up early or exercising regularly. This has been the finding of scientists at the University of California. So try to concentrate more on building up beneficial habits to replace the bad ones.
• Stress brings out the best in you. Actions you never dreamed you could do are suddenly do-able. Have you noticed old men lifting heavy furniture unaided from a burning building; or non-swimmer reaching the shore in record time from fear of drowning or upon seeing a shark’s fin in the water? These extraordinary fit of strength are caused by stress. These actions apply also when resolving seemingly unsolvable problems. Stress forces your brain to reach out for its utmost capabilities.
Perhaps, you could never be immune from stress but instead of vilifying it, look at it from a different angle. As a study made by the University of Wisconsin shows, stress may actually promote life’s longevity depending on how a person views it. Their report shows: “People who view stress positively are the least likely to die prematurely as compared to the 43% risk of death by those who view it negatively”. Stress, therefore, can be harmful or beneficial so why not choose to befriend it like what your ancestors did— and survive?!