Why Stress Can Sometimes Be Good for You

Stress is connected to our brain’s fear-based response system. And what was once an instinctive response to alert against predators has evolved into something entirely different. A traffic jam or an angry boss isn’t going to kill you, but today it still elicits the same stress response from all those years ago. So while most of us are relatively free of life-threatening dangers on a daily basis, your brain can’t always tell the difference.

When you’re facing stress, the most primitive part of your brain, the amygdala, signals a flood of hormones into your bloodstream that includes adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause your breathing to quicken, your heart to pump faster, and your senses to become sharper, all in an effort to combat any perceived threat, even if that threat is just a tough crowd or your daily commute.

But not all stress is bad, and sometimes it can even be helpful. An increased heart rate may just get you through a demanding situation expediently. And, having the fight-or-flight reflex means you can jump out of harms way without a second thought. But in this video, Jason Silva speaks on how you can harness the agitation and energy from stress and channel it toward creative ends. It’s all about intent, and making an active choice to use your heightened state of being and adrenaline to get things done.

Remember, everything good and great begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

Of course stress does have its pitfalls and ill-effects on the body. So while a few encounters with stress can help us rise to the occasion, prolonged exposure can be very damaging to health. So relax, take a walk, drink more tea, and stop and smell the flowers–literally.

So what about you? Were you born to handle stress? Or is all this stress talk stressing you out?

Tonight at 9P on Brain Games: Stress Test, through a series of interactive games and experiments, you’ll discover how stress works—and how to handle it better.