Stress is often defined as entirely harmful. Nary a moment goes by without someone reminding us that “stress is bad for you!” The fact is, stress is good, in at least five different ways.
1: Stress is a survival mechanism of the human species
We cannot function well without at least some amount of stress, which alerts us to the fact that something or someone requires our attention. Anxiety is not turned off or on by a rocker switch. Stress produces its effects along a continuum. At appropriate levels, it keeps people engaged in their world.
2: Is stress is automatically bad? It depends…
Just as fire and water can be useful or destructive, stress can cause destruction or growth. When a stressor is experienced, its intensity and context in which it takes place will determine the ultimate, healthy or unhealthy, effect on our lives.
3: Stress promotes growth
We know, and may be loath to admit, that adversities make us mature, adjust, and grow in directions which we may not have otherwise chosen. Most of the people we greatly admire are often those that have lived through incredibly stressful experiences. In everyday life, personal growth seldom occurs without some discomfort.
4: Stress is shared by everyone you know
Stress is universal. There is not a person on the face of the Earth who does not experience physiological and emotional stress. What sometimes makes us think that someone is immune is their subjective way of coping with stress.
5: Stress can and should be managed
Boredom occurs if stress is too low, and emotional and physiological damage can occur if stress is too high. Either way, good management practices can promote better alertness to the conditions and timing of stress, giving us some choices as to how we will respond, or help us reduce the harmful impact of runaway anxiety.