Why Stress Is Good for You – Instant Egghead #40

Why Stress Is Good for You – Instant Egghead #40

A test. A deadline at work.
A difficult conversation, a traffic jam. Your heart pounds, you breathe faster,
your muscles tense, you sweat. It’s all, well,… …VERY STRESSFUL. Plus, over time
all of this unpleasantness can raise your blood pressure,
clog your arteries, and make you prone to anxiety,
depression, and even addiction. Is the answer to avoid stress?
As if THAT were possible. Actually, one answer
is to take on more of it. Our body’s response to stress
is to fight or flee. It evolved to help us react quickly
to get ourselves out of a jam. When danger strikes, the amygdala,
the brain’s fear sensor, alerts the hypothalamus
that something is wrong. This almond-sized brain center
makes a long-distance call to the adrenal glands. These sit just above your kidneys
and pump epinephrine into the blood. You become focused, your reflexes
improve, your senses sharpen. To keep the tension high,
the hypothalamus acts again. This time, it tells the pituitary glands
to nudge the adrenal glands to spew out cortisol. This stress hormone
pushes glucose out of your tissues and into the blood, giving your body extra energy. Modern stressors are usually
not life-threatening. So this whole cascade of events
can be overkill, causing people to fret, when there really isn’t
much to worry about. But ironically, you need stress to fight stress. Taking on reasonalbe challenges, like speaking in front of
a small group, or standing up to a friend
who is bothering you, conditions your brain
to handle stressful situations. The brains’s Chief Executive, the prefrontal cortex,
gains power. So the next time
a deadline looms, or the traffic backs up, it shuts up the amygdala, stifling the alarm. You can now
tolerate that stress. You are resilient. Whew! For Scientific American’s
Instant Egghead, I’m Ingrid Wickelgren.

30 Replies to “Why Stress Is Good for You – Instant Egghead #40”

  1. "Why Stress Is Good For You" — title is bad. I don't want to be in the throes of fight or flight when I'm driving and on the phone, picking up a friend to go to the hospital. Clearly stress is not good for you. Just add the word "some." Then it is fine. "Why Some Stress Is Good For You."

  2. America is very stupid with it's naming. We're the only country that uses the greek instead of the latin. In greek Epi means above and Nephros means kidney. So epinephrine is the stuff that comes from your above kidneys. In latin Ad means above and Renalis means kidney. So adrenaline and epinephrine literally mean the same thing. They both come from whats called the adrenal gland, but in america we use greek for some reason.

  3. Because we unnecessarily complicate the way we talk about medicine with other countries, and, more importantly, adding unnecessary complexity makes medical terminology more of a challenge for patients to understand.

  4. Resilient is recovering from damage to your previous, undamaged condition. This is really more like antifragility because you are improving beyond your original condition as a result of the stress.

  5. What about in the case of autoimmune disease?  Would this philosophy conquer or worsen the condition??

  6. what about those who suffer ptsd, they had too much stress and can't loose it how hard they try, would you add more stress to them too I wonder, send them back being bullied or like those soldiers who saw their buddies die in front of their eyes… shoot some more while they have to watch ? would that help them?

  7. What she doesn't mention is how the gating of the amygdala's fear response can be trained to be constantly "on", resulting in general anxiety (leading to other issues).  I don't disagree with her suggestion, however a known fix for the aforementioned issue is visualization meditation, which reminds the amygdala that it's ok to shut off the fear response.

  8. Well then tell me why stroke doctors say that no stress is good for your body and will only cause harm to your heart and brain. Stop promoting false information and make the people more sick Scientific American. Shame…

  9. @Gaming Ace
    Even if it didn't kill her before she ran away, it would have easily caught up with her. You can't outrun a bear. Bit of a bad example to use really.

  10. Adrenaline makes you fight or flight aka run. That's not how stress works, stress cause neurons to dilate forcing numbness in your nervous system. What I can tell you. She is full of bs. If you are dead inside you'll upheld her holy statement as the new scientology gospel. Like a sociopath does.

  11. I am well aware that normal levels of stress are beneficial. But you see, I don't have normal levels of stress. Anxiety DIsorders and other mental illnesses can cut your lifespan by as much as 10 years. That's as much as heavy smoking. My Amygdala is basically sending out distress chemicals all the time, and it really fucking sucks.

  12. Mental stress is like physical stress. Your brains process information and you use your muscles daily. Both need own time for recovery. Not just sleeping, but also resting without doing or thinking anything.

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