Contrary to popular belief, that rising panic in the pit of your stomach every time you glance at your to-do list won’t necessarily send you to an early grave.
A decades-long joint study has found that stress and misery have no immediate impact on the length of a person’s life – but the decisions we make as a result of those feelings could.
So there we have it: stress and misery aren’t really killing you, they’re only making you feel that way. Some studies have gone even further, though, and said it can be beneficial to get stressed. How, you ask?
1. Stress can help your memory
There’s a hefty amount of research suggesting that stress hormones relate to learning ability and the retention of information.
When maintained at reasonable levels, the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol can be incredibly helpful in focusing the mind and improving short-term memory until a task is complete, such as cramming before an exam.
2. It stops you getting the flu
Being stressed – even momentarily – can give you an extended period of defence against illness.
It seems that being anxious about something lets the immune system know you may need its help in overcoming whatever you’re anxious about.
3. It’s motivating
It may seem obvious, but like pre-match jitters, a little stress can be the strike of clear urgency needed to make sure a task is done.
Assuming you are not working above capacity, too, stress can help you become more efficient and creative by way of necessity.
4. It’ll make your kids smarter
Received wisdom has it that stressed mothers-to-be will place undue strain on the baby, and that this is categorically a bad thing.
Some studies have found that mild maternal stress might help children to mature quicker.
5. It toughens you up
‘Positive stress’ – for instance the first day in a new job or making friends – is an example of anxiety that works out for the better, probably forcing us to avoid mistakes and not take dangerous risks.