Stress for health

The protective benefits of acute stress

We all know that chronic stress is a killer that contributes to everything from heart disease to digestive problems. What about short-term stress? According to Stanford Medicine, most reasonably healthy people can deal just fine with repeated, short-term stress that occurs in everyday situations—so long as that is balanced with periods of relatively low stress. In fact, the fight-or-flight stress response is nature’s fundamental survival mechanism, and the right amount of acute stress—the kind that lasts for minutes or hours—has a number of health benefits. It can help you:

• perform at a higher level under pressure;

• improve memory and the immune system;

• activate brain cells, helping to prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Each individual’s ability to cope with stress (short- or long-term) varies greatly. In all cases, it’s important to exercise, maintain a healthy diet, make time for rest and appropriately prioritize tasks.