Stress…Is Good For You

Stress is good for youI know what you’re thinking: What has this guy been smoking?

But it turns out that a person’s stress can actually be a growing point in that person’s life.

From a recent study that followed a control group of individuals for eight years, it seems that a person’s viewpoint on stress may have more to do with whether they lived or died than their actual levels of stress did.

Basically, individuals who reported experiencing relatively low levels of stress—but who also believed that stress was harmful for their health—had a higher mortality rate than those who reported having high levels of stress, but who believed that stress was not harmful for their health.

The conclusion? Well that’s the interesting part. It’s NOT stress that makes us sick, it is believing that the stress is bad for you that actually makes us sick.


Hans Selye, who popularized the term stress in the 1930s, would often say, “It’s not what happens to you that matters but how you take it.” This viewpoint takes into account a fundamental concept that is being lost in today’s world: resilience.

The late Selye would probably agree that if you take your stress in stride, you would naturally be more resilient, and as a result you would be better at coping with stress.

So if you don’t agree with this hypothesis that’s ok. You wouldn’t actually HAVE to believe that stress is good for you in order to get the health benefit. You’d just have to be a resilient person. As a resilient person you might be more inclined to see your stress in a different light. You can take it as a challenge, or as an opportunity to learn and grow, thus converting your bad stress or distress into good stress, or what Hans Selye called “eustress”.

The bottom line is that your beliefs are not about how you see your STRESS but how you see your SELF in relationship to your stress. If you see yourself as efficacious, and as a person who is in control of your own life and able to cope well with life’s ups and downs, certainly you are more likely to live longer, whether you believe stress is bad for you or not.

So don’t sweat the small stuff…and apparently, don’t sweat the big stuff either.

Author: Dr. Michael George

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