We usually think of stress as a bad thing.
Every week, family doctors see patients – anxious, angry, exhausted, burnt out or depressed – asking for a “stress leave” from work.
When we tell people at home or at work that they’re causing you a lot of stress, it’s not a complement and we’re not asking them to lay on some more.
And we usually think stress as coming from the outside – as if stress is a negative force that attacks your personal peace and prevents you from experiencing lasting happiness.
But stress is a key spice of human life. Like salt, it is essential to our physiology. Just the right sodium concentration in our circulation supports health. Too much can harm our tissues and organs, including our brains.
The incremental stress of additional weight in resistance training improves the tone and strength of our muscles. Challenging our hearts with appropriate cardiovascular exercise conditions our hearts to pump more efficiently.
So stress itself is not the enemy.
The right types of stress in the right doses are essential to your wellbeing. Too much may be harmful.
It is not something to be avoided at all costs. We cannot lock ourselves in and keep it outside.
Sometimes the greatest harm comes from within – the ways in which we manage stress.
Next: The Maladaptive Ways We Cope With Stress