Aren’t we always reading how bad stress is for us? How it affects our health, digestion, mood and even our sleep.
And yet stress is important for us to function. Stress is natural, a biological human response that saves us from danger by fighting or fleeing. We need to react to a situation that could harm us. Otherwise, we would have become extinct a long time ago. It is when acute stress turns into chronic stress that the real damage begins.
it is well studied that stress is linked to having a greater risk of poor health, both mentally and physically. The questions is, in the absence of stress, would we be healthier?
And that is what researchers recently set out to study which resulted in some surprises.
Of the 2,804 persons studied, 10% reported no stress during the study period. These non-stressed persons also stated that they did not provide nor receive emotional support nor experience positive daily events at any time during the study period. Furthermore, they were less likely to have a chronic health condition and yet it was discovered that they had lower levels of cognitive functioning.
The findings suggested that daily stressors just might increase our brain power.
It seems social isolation and living the same day every day without much interaction or having any of life’s little stressors might be affecting our thinking and ability to problem solve.
So when the computer does something weird, when the dishwasher breaks down, when you drop your glass of red wine on the carpet, when you cannot figure out how to change the LED light bulb or you forget to do something important or you get lost, just know that your brain is working to help you solve the problem. And you are now stressing out. Instead sit with it and see if you can figure out now to solve it before panic sets in. Because when you do this, you are creating new neurons in your brain and that is helping with your cognitive ability.
I know my first reaction to solving something like a computer problem is to first panic, get stressed and perhaps have the desire to cry. I was recently working on a project that required computer technical skills and it was suggested that it should only take 10 minutes. Well, I knew that it was not going to take me 10 minutes. it took me off and on 2 days to finally do it and I was so proud of myself for working through it, despite several times wanting to give up. I did not avoid the stress, I worked through it.
So reframe how you view your stress. It is part of life and problem solving is good for mental health. Don’t avoid these minor daily stressors, welcome them and challenge yourself to work through them. At least give it a good try. And if it is too much, as in my case, I get my husband to change those pesky LED light bulbs. It is good for his neurons!