11 Reasons Why Stress Is Good For You

As READ on All Shook Up: 11 Cheers For Stress.

All the credits go to Huffington Post. All I have to say that this particular article is a MUST READ for everyone, with all the stresses throwing at us every single day.  Enjoy and have a great weekend ahead!

1. Stress keeps you sharp

Do you want to get dumb, fast? Retire today. When people retire, they cannot recall as many words or think as clearly as those of the same age and health who keep at it. Countries that urge people to retire early by heavily taxing work and awarding handsome public pension benefits, end up with stupider old people.In France and Austria, men in their 60s are far less likely to be working than men in the U.S. and Denmark, for example. The early retirees pay a price. Cognitive ability of men in their 60s dropped twice as much in Austria and France. The retired Viennese and Parisians may enjoy tastier pastries while lounging in their cafes, but they can no longer follow the recipe to bake pastries themselves.

2. Stress at work keeps you young
When we show ambition and take on a new project at work, serotonin and dopamine start flowing more vigorously. Neurons make new connections. The brain renews itself. When you allow yourself to feel ambition it is like sipping from the fountain of youth.In contrast, when we become less active and less ambitious, serotonin levels slip and gray cells die. If you don’t show up for work, or simply lean against the shovel or the photocopier, hoping someone else will do the job, you are skipping a sip at the fountain of youth. For those who are big fans of The 4-Hour Workweek, I would ask, What will you do the rest of the day? Do you want to take the risk of working only four hours?

3. We are built to handle stress

I dedicate my book RUSH to “my ancestors, who managed to avoid getting eaten by saber-toothed tigers, trampled by wooly mammoths, or lost at shipping docks in the 1800s on their way to America.”Every one alive today is the product of evolution. Our ancestors had to do a lot of running, ducking and rushing around to survive the floods, droughts, beasts, and noisy neighbors of the past 50,000 years. Do you think that our minds and spirits are not hardy enough to handle the frustration of a lost cell-phone call?

4. Stress is a sign that you exist in a normal social system
Let’s not kid ourselves, all systems arouse competition and stress. Under Soviet communism, people competed to gain favor with leaders, to scrape up vouchers for food, and to nab an available apartment in Moscow.But the Soviet system wanted its citizens to feel guilt and shame for doing so. In Maoist China in the early 1980s, “my classmates snooped on each other, read each other’s diaries, feared and suspected one another–an expression of the deep mistrust they perfected during Cultural Revolution,” writes John Pomfret who attended college in Nanjing, the sole American in his class.

The students couldn’t wait to outdo and undermine each other. Isn’t it better to live in a society where competition leads to iPads, MRI scanners and life-saving medicines?

5. Good times bring stress, too

One of the loudest audience laugh interruptions came in 1953, during the filming of the I Love Lucy episode, “Lucy Goes to the Hospital.” Lucy is very pregnant. Ricky, Fred and Ethel have been rehearsing methodically how to drive Lucy to the hospital, that is, who will carry the suitcase, help Lucy on with her overcoat, call the taxi, etc. Suddenly, Lucy enters the room and says, “Ricky, this is it.” All hell breaks loose.The suitcase crashes to the floor, clothes scatter and Ricky ends up putting Lucy’s fur-collared coat on Fred Mertz, as they barrel into each other and out the door. We see Lucy left alone, as the others race to the hospital, asking “Hey, what about me?” Classic. A classic comedy scene and a classic example of stress. The good life is full of stress and angst. A new baby, a wedding, a job promotion, or even hosting a Thanksgiving dinner will pump our blood pressure. We all handle stress differently.

6. Stress helps you bond and fall in love

Go to any high school or college or to any senior citizen’s development. A boy and girl plot to meet at some locker in between periods. A date is planned. The girl picks out her clothing, fixes her hair, asks her roommates which style looks best. The boy showers and, these days, spritzes himself with one of the 1,000 colognes and body sprays advertised in Sports Illustrated and Men’s Fitness. As the anticipate meeting, opioids, dopamine, adrenalin, testosterone and estrogen flow.Merely thinking about a fun date raises the cortisol level in saliva. Stress hormones make them literally and metaphorically weak at the knees. The excitement and chemical stimulation comes from the possibility of love. Romantic bonding comes, then, not from sitting in lotus pose, but in the forward-looking excitement at what might be discovered next. That tingle of stress one feels inside is a friendly tingle, a good stress. It adds sweet mystery to life.

7. Stress can make you live longer

Stand up while reading this article! I may have just saved your life.Relaxing by the fire can kill you. Okay, I’m exaggerating and some relaxation is good for us. But how much? Few things are more relaxing than sprawling out on a sofa and channel-surfing on a television. But a six-year Australian study asked about 9,000 men and women how many hours they spent watching television. Those who spent more than four hours a day “de-stressing,” scored an 80 percent higher change of cardiovascular disease than those who spent less than two hours.

Americans average about five hours reclining in front of the television, basically slowing down their metabolism. In your bloodstream is an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. It’s a friendly enzyme because it draws fat to your muscles, where it can be burned as fuel. But sitting on your fanny relaxing leaves fat in your bloodstream, where it might as well clog into formations that spell out 9-1-1.

8. Stress might help you ward off disease and heal faster

Sure, many of us have read that stress makes people sick. But this charge was overblown and under-researched. While unrelenting, unbearable stress can spark a cortisol overload, leading to abdominal bulges, more recent experiments show that moderate stress releases healthy bursts of cortisol that boost our immunity system.Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory that can fight bacteria and viruses. Moreover, researchers at Stanford University have shown that patients heal faster from surgery as a result of the stress response. Stanford researcher Firdaus Dhabhar thinks about it from an evolutionary perspective: “Why would a gazelle’s immune system be suppressed when a lion is chasing it? This is a time when the gazelle would need a robust immune response to protect it from wounding or infection.”

9. Stress shakes things up in a good way

We do best with a life of flux. Flux even makes us smarter. Surprises make us smarter. Even little surprises.Listen to this. A research named Alice Isen observed doctors diagnosing patient symptoms. Before the diagnoses, Isen arranged for some of the doctors to receive a surprise — free candy. They got four little chocolates and six hard candies. Then Isen watched the doctors work. Those who received the surprise thought more creatively and came up with sharper inferences.

Why? Because giving them a surprise, shaking up their world, supercharged their dopamine levels and got them thinking with more energy, vigor and rigor.

The next time you visit a doctor, do you want him to think he has no surprises left in his life? Do you want your doctor so relaxed and stress-free that he does not feel the stakes of a life and death matter? Not me. I like my doctors optimistic, looking forward, and feeling that healthy tension that comes when men and women play at the top of their game.

10. Stress helps the economy and raises life expectancy

We could go back to a simpler time, I suppose. Scroll back the clocks 100 years. You wouldn’t face the stress of freeway traffic. Or the cable man showing up late. But life expectancy was just 50 years of age!The stress of a competitive life has led us to live longer and healthier than ever imagined. Of course, we all feel tired and annoyed from time to time. Why don’t we just call a truce, an end to consumerism, materialism, and struggling for more?

Think about it this way: At what point in time in the past should people have declared “Stop! Enough progress. Let’s keep things simple”? Would 1 B.C. have been a good time to hit “pause”? Or July 3, 1776? Or on the eve of the 1964 Civil Rights vote? It’s a good thing Teddy Roosevelt did not lock us into the standard of living of 1904 or we would never fly on airplanes, get a polio vaccination or expect to live past the age of 50.

11. Your stress levels might not be as bad as you think

Woody Allen teaches us about stress exactly because his persona finds it everywhere. His flustered persona is not a prescription for living, but that is how we would end up if we listened by all the therapists telling us to “take it easy.”In Annie Hall, Young Alvy is taken to a cigarette-smoking doctor by his mother. Alvy is depressed. He can’t do anything. Something he’s read has paralyzed him. Tell the doctor, his mother hollers.

(His head still down)
The universe is expanding.

The universe is expanding?

(Looking up at the doctor)
Well, the universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!Disgusted, his mother looks at him.

What is that your business?
(she turns back to the doctor)
He stopped doing his homework.

What’s the point?

(Excited, gesturing with her hands)
What has the universe got to do with it? You’re here in Brooklyn!

Brooklyn is not expanding!If you are convinced the world is out to get you, pretty soon it will.


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