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Five health benefits of stress

We report on the dangers of stress quite often, but various studies have found that stress can actually have a positive impact on your health.

A decades-long study by Oxford University and the University of New South Wales has found that stress and misery don’t have an immediate impact on the length of a person’s life. However, the decisions we make as a result of stress – such as drinking alcohol and smoking – do.

The Telegraph has compiled five theories that venture to prove stress can have positive effects too.

1 Better memory
Research suggests that the stress hormone cortisol can help the mind focus and retain information. A 2013 study on rats by the University of Berkeley in California found that stressful events caused the rodents to create more nerve cells in the brain and their memory improved two weeks after the incident.

2 It fights the flu
Contrary to popular belief, a 2012 study by the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection showed that being anxious triggers the immune system to amp up its defences.

3 Motivation
Dr Kerry McGonigal of Stanford University theorises that stress can actually help your mind focus on what needs to be done. She also believes you can overcome stress and turn negative feelings into positive ones.

4 You’ll pass on some smarts
It’s widely accepted that stress during pregnancy is not a good thing. However, a 2006 study by the Bloomberg School of Public Health found that maternal anxiety might help children mature quicker, giving them greater motor and developmental skills than those with relaxed mothers.

5 It makes you tough
“Positive” stress experienced at key moments in your life – such as the first day at a new job – can help you focus and avoid mistakes. A 2012 study by the University of Buffalo found those who faced adverse life experiences were more well adjusted than those without.

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