Is Stress an Emotion: The Pros and Cons to Health

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

A students life is stressful, is stress an emotion affects healthTime is ticking away. The paper you were given weeks to write is due in 24 hours, and you haven’t written a word yet. This means another all-night crunch filled with energy drinks and coffee, but you manage to make it to class paper in hand. This isn’t the way to work that’s usually defined in syllabuses, but many otherwise brilliant minds and high achievers admit to this type of work ethic. These individuals claim that the stress of the deadline is the motivation they need to do their best work. This leads many to question, Is stress an emotion that is good or will it have consequences to health?

In this way stress is good. The feeling of pressure from a deadline or a need to succeed forces those feeling this stress to focus all their energy into a single action. If they allowed themselves more time they will tell you, the normal distractions of the day will affect their work and their thoughts will not flow as well.

Stress brings a burst of energy as well as focus. This burst of energy, if you define it from a certain point of view, can be fun. The rush of working hard at a goal, whether under a time crunch or not, eliminates boredom and stimulates creative thinking.

Is Stress an Emotion Without Consequences?

Research indicates these bursts of stress and the resulting feelings of fatigue in the aftermath is actually good for the immune system, while the creative bursts keep brain cells working at their peak and this could protect against diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s. People who report periods of stress and have a good response to it also report shorter recovery times after accidents or surgery. Stress is even reported to keep hormones in balance.

Working in a stressful environment with time crunches can make you more resilient, motivate you and even boost brain power, however, there can be a negative side to dealing with these stresses, as well. Some stress however isn’t good, and those who report having difficulty with stress usually define one thing in common and this is not feeling in control. For example employees who have high responsibility for getting a job done, but little say in how to accomplish the tasks associated with the job report more negative stress. Also, working under stress can increase your cortisol levels and affect your sleep patterns, it can also make you more irritable and leave you feeling fatigued. So it comes down to how much stress you have for it to be harmful or healthy.

Is Stress an Emotion Affected by Experience

What this can mean for those who report bad experiences or responses to stress is a need to find ways to have more control regardless of the amount of work or responsibility they might have to assume. Another way to deal with stress is to find productive outlets to let off steam, or anxiety and channel the aftermath of stress into something positive.

Is Stress an Emotion Affected by Your Body

As stated above stress can be good for your body, but it also can have a negative impact on your body. The Neuroendometabolic Stress Response is how your body reacts to stress and how it can affect different body systems and organs, and how they all are interrelated to each other. Our brain receives stress signals through our senses and then it’s up to our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal hormonal axis to interpret these stresses and convert them to hormones.The hormones are then delivered to the proper organ or body system that is needed to take further action from this stress. Stress can be either physical or mental in form, either way your body will react to it.

Is stress an emotion that makes you feel buriedIf the stress reaches high levels, the hormone cortisol released by the adrenal glands will drop causing fatigue. Overtime this can be debilitating. This long term condition is called Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.

If your body is already under high amounts of stress, it is not a good idea to use stress to boost your brain power or to motivate you because it may have an opposite effect and your body may crash. Instead limit your body to small amounts of stress. You can’t avoid stress in your life but you can control some of the stress that your body could endure. While there is some research that says stress is good for you, if you suffer from AFS, it’s typically better to streamline your life and stress all together.

A students life is stressful, is stress an emotion affects health

© Copyright 2013 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.