6. The Vice: Stressing Out
The Benefit: Improves Immunity
While it might not always feel totally pleasant to have an adrenaline-fueled day at work, experiencing short periods of low-level stress can actually make your mind and body more effective. Stress causes heightened awareness, increased energy, and a surge in blood flow, all of which trigger a release of hormones that send protective chemicals into the bloodstream, explains Firdaus Dhabhar, Ph.D., director of research at the Stanford University Center on Stress and Health. This helps to boost immunity and reduce your risk for certain types of cancer.
What’s more, according to research from the University of Buffalo in New York, people who face stressful life events develop a kind of emotional resilience that affords them better mental health and more life satisfaction than those who haven’t encountered such tough obstacles. The catch, though, is that the kind of stress that offers these benefits is acute, not chronic. What’s the difference? While acute stress is generally short-lived (think: work deadlines), chronic stress is long-lasting, feels beyond your control, and may require support from a therapist if it endures beyond a few consecutive days. Left untreated, chronic stress can contribute to heart disease, depression, and obesity.
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