Certain types of stress can be good for your brain!

A new study has found that low to moderate levels of stress can help build resilience and reduce the risk of mental disorders such as depression and antisocial behavior.

Low to moderate stress can also help people cope with stressful situations in the future, researchers from the University of Georgia Institute for Youth Development report in a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

“If you are in an environment with a certain level of stress, you can develop coping mechanisms that allow you to become a more efficient and effective employee and organize yourself in a way that helps you work,” said Assaf Oshri, lead author of the study. studies and is an assistant professor at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The stress of preparing for an exam, preparing for an important meeting at work, or the extra hours it takes to close a deal can all lead to personal growth. Being kicked out can encourage someone to reconsider their strengths and whether they should stay in their field or do something new. But the line between low to moderate stress levels and high stress levels is very thin.

Oshri suggested that good stress can act as a “vaccine” against the impact of future adversity.

The researchers relied on data from the Human Connectome Project, a national project funded by the National Institutes of Health that aims to understand how the human brain works.

In this study, researchers analyzed project data from more than 1,200 young people who reported their perceived levels of stress, using a questionnaire commonly used in research to measure how stressed people find their lives spiraling out of control.

Participants answered questions about how often they experienced certain thoughts or feelings, such as “How often in the past month have you been upset about something that happened unexpectedly?” and “How many times in the past month have you found yourself unable to do all the things you should have done?”

Their neurocognitive abilities were then assessed using tests measuring attention, the ability to suppress automatic responses to visual stimuli, cognitive flexibility or the ability to switch between tasks, image sequence memory, which includes remembering an ever longer sequence of things, working memory, and processing speed.

The researchers compared these results with participants’ responses to multiple measures of anxiety, attention problems, and aggression, among other behavioral and emotional issues.

The analysis showed that low and moderate levels of stress were psychologically beneficial, potentially serving as a kind of vaccine against mental health symptoms.

“Most of us have had negative experiences that actually made us stronger,” Oshri explained. “There are certain experiences that can help you develop skills that will prepare you for the future.”

But the ability to withstand stress and adversity varies greatly from person to person. Factors such as age, genetic predisposition, and having a supportive community to turn to in times of need all play a role in how people cope. And while a little stress can be good for cognitive function, Oshri warns that chronically high levels of stress can be incredibly detrimental to both physical and mental health.

He continued, “At a certain point, stress becomes toxic. Chronic stress, such as the stress of living in extreme poverty or abuse, can have very bad health and psychological consequences. It affects everything from the immune system to emotional regulation to brain function.

Source: Medical Express