Given the opportunity, plenty of people would probably opt to eliminate stress entirely from their lives.
Fascinating new findings from the University of Georgia, however, indicate that a little bit of stress can actually be very beneficial to both body and brain.
When we’re stressed, we’re usually forced to deal with unpredictable or tense situations that can rankle our bodies physically. While these scenarios are almost never fun in the moment, they serve to push us out of our comfort zones — and that can be a good thing for the mind. Researchers say that low to moderate levels of stress appear to promote improved working memory.
Constantly feeling super stressed out can actually change the very structure of one’s brain. When we’re very stressed on a regular basis, it causes an increase in white matter at the expense of gray matter. Gray matter is essential, and involved in muscle control, decision-making, self-control, emotional regulation, and more.
‘You need the right resources to be strengthened by stress’
Participants’ social networks were also analyzed via a number of different measures. Examples include how they felt about their own ability to handle unexpected events, how satisfied they were that their lives matter and are meaningful, and the availability of friend-based support across their social networks.
Notably, people who reported high levels of social support from friends and family were better able to cope with low to moderate stress levels in a healthy way.