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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.

Let’s face it: Work stress is inevitable. But how you perceive that stress could help you use it to your advantage. In a new study in the Journal of Social and Psychological Sciences, 380 employees were split into three groups. One watched videos showing how stress can be beneficial, a second on how it can be debilitating, and the third didn’t watch anything. The stress-is-a-bonus group had fewer physical problems and a significant uptick in productivity when evaluated later on. “If you see stress as bad, then you’ll have negative health effects from it,” says study author Achor. “But if you see it as something that is inevitable and beneficial, you’ll have fewer fatigue-related symptoms, headaches, and backaches.”

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The stress-immune system connection is partly evolutionary, and we’ve known it for a while, as illustrated by this National Health Institute study released nearly a decade ago. “If you think about it, if you are a gazelle and you are running from a cheetah, that’s exactly when you want your body to perform and heal the fastest,” says Achor. Vaccines work on a similar principle. “Vaccines stress your system, and in the midst of that, you develop antibodies to make you stronger in the future.” But be aware that there is a tipping point: while short bursts of stress can be good, chronic, unrelenting stress can compromise your immune system in the long haul, making you get sick easier. 



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