Can Stress be Good?
Updated: Feb 17
The quick and simple answer is yes.
The real questions is: how much stress can be good and how much is bad?
That is a fine line to walk for every single individual and is undoubtely dependent on each person. What we do know is when you hit the 'sweet spot' for stress, stress stimulates the brain, elevates daily physical and mental performance and enhances the immune system.
Short bursts of adrenaline releasing stress can save your life.
What is stress?
Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline.1
The most common signs of stress according to the UK are as follows:
being under lots of pressure.
facing big changes.
worrying about something.
not having much or any control over the outcome of a situation.
having responsibilities that you're finding overwhelming.
not having enough work, activities or change in your life.
times of uncertainty.2
The real difference between good and bad stress is the acute or chronic aspects and the individual and how that person can adapt and overcome. Individuals serving in our Armed Forces are trained to 'adapt and overcome' most stressful situations that they are exposed too. This however does not mean that repetative exposure doesn't take its toll on these indivudals.
UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute researches evaluated acute stress in rats under stressful situations and the outcome was an increase in brain stem cell activation. Under short term exposure enhance stem cell activity which enhanced cognitive function 2 weeks post exposure.`
So the debate could start with how much stress is good and for how long and perhaps under what conditions?
For the elderly and athletes, we see a correlation of magnesium deficiency and how the body handles stress.3
The unfortunate outcome is often heart related issues: A-Fib, hypertension, heart arrhythmia's. These outcomes are an accumulation of poor diets, diets without proper levels of Magnesium, diets which include moderate to excessive alcohol intake and excessive energy output.
Acute stress is the type of stress that is life saving; running from a Grizly bear while hiking. The body goes in to flight mode which sparks an adrenaline flush, which gets the feet and body moving.
The energy required to make the body 'move' requires energy and this energy is called the ATP Cycle. It doesn't exist without Magnesium.
Chronic stress; as in lower back pain or sports related injuries, creates physical and mental stress, which both require Magnesium to deal with.
The time and intensity of stress will continue as an unknown regarding negative affects on the body.
What we do know if that stress can save your life and slowly kill you if not addressed and moderated safely and in a sustainable fashion.
3 Wienecke E, Nolden C. Langzeit-HRV-Analyse zeigt Stressreduktion durch Magnesiumzufuhr [Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake]. MMW Fortschr Med. 2016 Dec;158(Suppl 6):12-16. German. doi: 10.1007/s15006-016-9054-7. Epub 2016 Dec 8. PMID: 27933574.