Without stress, you turn dumber and sicker. Say what???? That plus a few other conclusions about the role of stress as a factor in keeping people healthy and living longer are part of a piece by Todd Buchholz this week. At first glance, the story thesis may contradict most everything we’re generally taught about stress: it’s bad. Bad for your mental health. Bad for physical health. Bad for your family. Bad for everything.
Well, not entirely. I’ve written here before about some actual immune health benefits of short-term stress. Short bursts of stress can actually fine tune and “exercise” your immune system, kind of like taking it for a speed walk every now and then.
One passage from Buchholz I really like:
“Every one alive today is the product of evolution. Our ancestors had to do a lot of running, ducking and rushing around to survive the floods, droughts, beasts, and noisy neighbors of the past 50,000 years. Do you think that our minds and spirits are not hardy enough to handle the frustration of a lost cell-phone call?”
In essence, Buchholz is saying a totally stress-free life can shorten your life, while a regular regimen of small stress moments–which happen when things are good, bad, hectic, chaotic or blissful–is what the body was made for.