We hear all the time on the news, social media, blog posts, and online searches how bad stress is, but did you know there's good stress too?
It is well documented that chronic stress leads to all sorts of health issues, including heart disease, however, there are a number of benefits to short-term, or acute, stress.
Without stress our bodies wouldn't be able to fight off viruses, our immune system would be more vulnerable to infection and disease, and we now know that stress is the most effective nootropic for learning new things and increasing neuroplasticity.
Additionally, there are a number of safe ways to consciously activate your stress response to access the incredible benefits that stress can offer, as well as methods to combat chronic stress.
Stress plays a vital role in our daily lives and is immensely important to our health and wellness.
Stress is what makes us feel concerned about failure, and is our desire to succeed.
The key is to be able to turn stress off when we need to, not to avoid it all together.
Controlling stress allows us the ability to become receptive as opposed to merely reactive.
This means instead of being anxious, making poor decisions, and feeling overwhelmed, we will be able to handle external circumstances with a clear head while being engaged and effective.
Acute stress in particular is good for our immune systems. It's our body's first responders to viruses and illness.
Acute stress response activates epinephrine (adrenaline) and allows the spleen to release killer cells that combat viruses.
Chronic stress can be devastating to overall health, create heart disease, and contribute to multiple mental and physical health concerns.
So far everything that you have learned above will decrease the risk of chronic stress by fighting infection and viruses and increasing your Stress Threshold.
However, chronic stress is often a result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
The best preventative measures a person can engage in that will eliminate chronic stress is getting regular, adequate, sleep, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week (~21 minutes/day), and social connection- not social media.
We hear all the time about diet and exercise, and now you know how and why the stress of exercise is so important to your Stress Threshold and acute stress response, but you may not have expected sleep and social connection to make the list.
If you begin to notice you can't get good sleep that is a major indicator of a shift from acute or medium stress to chronic stress.
Engaging in social connections such as seeing your friends, family, taking your dog for a walk, etc. has been found to increase serotonin, a neuromodulator, which decreases stress, anxiety, and depression.
You are now a master of stress.
You know what stress is, how to use it, and how to combat it through exercise, cold water exposure, breathing exercises, sleep, and social connection.
By combining a healthy lifestyle with the tools to voluntarily access your acute stress response and the tools to increase your Stress Threshold you can take control of your life. It's time to start receiving, and stop reacting.
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