Scientists stress the positive side of being under pressure

Getting stressed
now and again may be good for your health, new research suggests.

A short burst of
stress, such as that caused by giving a speech, may strengthen your body’s
immune system. But long-term stress may render you less able to fight
infections, says the study.

Dr Suzanne
Segerstrom and Dr Gregory Miller report their findings in the journal
Psychological Bulletin.

Scientists have
known for some time that stress can have a negative effect on the body, but the
pair from the University of Kentucky in Canada and the University of British
Columbia in Canada say some psychological stress can be good for you.

The two men looked
at about 300 scientific papers published on the subject, involving almost
19,000 people.

Stressful situations that
lasted only short periods appeared to tap into the primeval ‘fight or flight’
response, which dates back to when early man was threatened by predators.

This response
benefited the person by boosting their body’s natural frontline defence against
infections from traumas such as bites and scrapes. The important factor
appeared to be knowing that the event causing the anxiety would end soon.

Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said: "We all need
some pressure in life. Stress is there to make sure you do your best in a
challenging situation, whether it is running away from a sabre-toothed tiger or
having to confront a difficult interview situation."

By Mike Berry

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