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6 Ways Stress Can Be Healthy

So stressed you might punch the next guy who pisses you off? Bad idea. Instead, sooth yourself by reading about these surprising health benefits of being put under pressure.

Whoa, stress can make you smarter? Apparently so. In a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, researchers trapped rats in their cages for a few hours to mimic temporary, but acute, stress. This confinement doubled the proliferation of new brain cells in the hippocampus, and the stressed critters performed better on a memory test two weeks later. “Immediately after stress, we make more newborn neurons, and when they mature, they participate in a learning experience that makes us learn better,” says study author Daniela Kaufer, Ph.D, who is also an associate professor of integrative biology.

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Just ask any guy who’s ever been through military boot camp, and he’ll tell you this: Those strenuous times also yielded many of his lifelong buddies and fondest memories. How can something so obviously stressful leave such a favorable impression? “You develop the deepest social bonds when you feel stress,” says Achor. Other research bears that out too: Scientists from the University of Freiburg in Germany found that acute stress may lead to greater cooperative, social, and friendly behavior among men—rather than the more expected agro-hostility—because of our profoundly human need for social connections.



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