We usually think that stress is always a bad thing – but that’s not really the case.
While chronic stress surely is bad for you, temporary stress can have positive benefits and indeed help your brain to perform at optimum levels.
You need a little bit of stress occasionally to push you to perform.
Researchers did an experiment with rats, and it’s very likely that similar observations could be made in human beings:
In studies on rats, they found that significant, but brief stressful events caused stem cells in their brains to proliferate into new nerve cells that, when mature two weeks later, improved the rats’ mental performance.
If you think about it, it really should not be surprising that there is such a thing as positive stress. After all, pretty much every function in our body does have some positive purpose, even if that sometimes isn’t obvious. So it’s not about totally avoiding stress, it’s about having good stress management strategies in place.
In the case of stress, it helps to be more alert, and for example remember a place where something dangerous or threatening happened.