Some stress can be good for the brain – but not too much stress.
New research from the Institute for Youth Development at the University of Georgia suggests that low to moderate levels of stress can help support individuals’ development. Such exposure increases resilience, the authors explain, and helps reduce the risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression or antisocial behavior. It also helps people deal better with future stressful encounters.
As such, a certain amount of stress can be beneficial to our development, the authors argue – the trick is not to overdo it. Some examples of these beneficial levels of stress include studying for an exam, preparing for a work meeting, or taking some extra time off to meet deadlines.
“If you’re in an environment where you have some level of stress, you can develop coping mechanisms that will allow you to be a more efficient and effective worker and help you organize yourself in a way that helps you perform. Will help to do that,” Asaf Oshri said. lead author of the study and an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“It’s like when you keep working something too hard and it gets a little harsh on your skin. You trigger your skin to adapt to the pressure you’re applying it. But if you use too much If you do, you’re going to cut your skin.”
When an aspiring writer rejects their draft, they experience great stress. Someone who fails a job interview will find themselves in a similar position. But rejection can prompt the writer to rethink their style and improve, or the worker to reconsider their strengths and abilities and whether they want to remain in the field or move to a new branch.
A ‘good’ level of stress can thus act as a catalyst for our personal growth, and make us more resilient to future adversity. Plus, too much stress can leave us feeling tired and thin, draining our internal resources and potentially making us more vulnerable to unfortunate situations.
The researchers obtained data from the Human Connectome Project, a nationwide project funded by the National Institutes of Health that aims to obtain data on how the human brain functions. The study used data from more than 1,200 young adults who participated in that project. These participants reported their perceived stress levels through the use of a questionnaire, which is commonly used to measure the extent to which people perceive their lives as stressful and uncontrollable.
Questionnaire “In the past month, how often have you been upset because of something unexpected?” Such questions were included. or “In the past month, how many times have you found that you couldn’t cope with all the things you had to do?”
In addition to their answers here, the study also measured each participant’s neurocognitive abilities using tests for attention span and their ability to suppress automatic responses to visual stimuli. They measured their cognitive flexibility, their ability to switch between tasks, their picture sequence memory (the recall of increasingly long series of objects), their working memory, and their overall data processing speed. Data concerning other behavioral and emotional problems as well as the level of anxiety each participant felt (derived from multiple measurements of self-reported anxiety, attention problems, and aggressive behavior) were also included.
According to their analysis, the team says that low to moderate levels of stress were actually beneficial to the participants’ psyche. It appears that mental health acts as a buffer for vaccination against symptoms, the team explains.
“Most of us have had some unfavorable experience that really makes us stronger,” Oshri said. “There are specific experiences that can help you develop or develop skills that will prepare you for the future.”
That being said, research also shows that the ability to tolerate stress and face adversity is also highly dependent on the individual. Factors such as age, genetic predisposition for certain mental health issues, and having a support network to come back in times of need all shape how well individuals can cope with the challenges life throws at them, and the challenges that arise from it. Those tensions.
Furthermore, while a little stress can be good for our brains, constant, high levels of stress are incredibly harmful both mentally and physically.
“At a certain point, the stress becomes toxic,” Oshree explains. “Like the stress that comes from living in severe poverty or abuse, chronic stress can have very poor health and psychological consequences. It affects everything from your immune system to emotional regulation, to brain functioning. All stress is good There is no tension.”
The findings shed a new light on the issue of stress, which is generally regarded as a universally bad element in one’s life. It shows that certain levels of stress can actually help us stay healthy, engaged, and growing. The findings, however, also reinforce what we’ve all seen in our lives: Too much stress is very bad for us. The point, as always, is that the dose makes the poison.
The paper “Is perceived stress associated with increased cognitive functioning and reduced risk for psychosis? Testing the hormesis hypothesis” is published in the journal psychiatric research,