Can stress be good for us?
You read that right. Stress is an emotion we always associate with negativity. But did you know that’s not always the case? Understanding what stress is is the first step toward managing it in a way that is helpful to us and our bodies. TeenBook’s guest expert, Dr Shishir Palsapure, gives us a quick low down on stress.
Stress is our body’s reaction and our mind’s reaction to any adversity. Stress is necessary to deal with adversity.
The adversity could be internal. For instance, let’s say I’m thirsty. This means my body lacks water, and therefore to deal with this, I feel thirsty. So this thirst is likely stressful and if I don’t feel the thirst, I will not drink water and I will die.
So this is stress, a body’s natural and adaptive reaction to something that is adverse. And the goal of stress is to deal with this adversity.
Now, this adversity could be external. For instance, let’s say I’m standing in the sun and I feel very warm. So the body has this stress reaction that you’re feeling warm so you’ll move out of the sun. This is a normal adaptive stress reaction.
So any stress that is adaptive, which means it helps you fix the problem and is not very very distressing can be termed as normal stress or useful stress.
Now when we talk about problematic stress, we look at two aspects. First and foremost, it is very distressing. So it causes you a lot of discomforts, either psychologically or physically. And whatever you do in that stress, is not helpful in the longer run.
These are the two clear parameters on which you can identify that the stress is something that is not helping you or causing you distress.
So one of the first indicators is the intensity with which you’re feeling the discomfort. So if the intensity is high, you need to think about that stress as harmful stress. And if you do something that is not helpful to you in the long run, then also we can say that it is dysfunctional stress. In such a case, we should talk to someone who can help us reduce this kind of stress.
For learning how to manage stress, head to our stress buster resource. Also, don’t forget to check out his detailed podcast on teenage wala stress below:
Dr Shishir Palaspure is a trained psychologist who specializes in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. He is also the Founder of the CORE emotional education program for schools. More details on his work can be found here.
The person in the photo is a model. Photo: Shutterstock/Max kegfire
Have a query? Ask our experts! In this column, we take questions from adolescents and their parents on growing up, adolescence, puberty and everything in between; and put them to subject matter experts.