“The more anxiety, the more you feel that you are headed in the right direction.” -Joyce Carol Oates

We tend to think of stress as bad. However, recent research suggests this is an extreme oversimplification.

One study followed 30,000 adults for 8 years and found high levels of stress increased the risk of death by 48% but only among people who believed stress is bad for your health. Those who had high levels of stress but didn’t see it as unhealthy were actually the least likely to die during the study (even compared to people with really low-stress lives).

Your response to stress is largely controlled by your ratio of two stress hormones: cortisol and DHEA. When cortisol is higher stress tends to lead to negative outcomes like increased depression and impaired immune functioning. When DHEA is higher stress produces positive outcomes like reduced anxiety, heart disease, and depression.

Studies from Harvard found that a 3-minute video about the benefits of stress caused participants to have higher DHEA levels and a more favorable response to a high-pressure situation.

Knowing about the benefits of stress literally changes how it affects you.

For more, check out this week’s recommended book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, by Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal.


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