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Being Stressed May Make You a Better Person, According to This Research

a woman feeling stressed while sitting in bed
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Stress isn’t generally something people find joy in. It’s certainly not something that’s good for you. From depression to premature aging, the effects of stress on the body are nothing to joke about. However, stress might make you a better person according to one study.

Although stress still isn’t something most people would recommend, it seems like it’s not all bad. Over at Inverse, they highlight a study recently published in Stress & Health that links emotional support to stress. Those who are experiencing elevated stress levels tend to be those most willing to give support to friends and are also more open to receiving it themselves.

The study, conducted by Penn State, used 1,622 subjects and interviewed them over eight nights. Researchers asked participants about their stress level through their day and then inquired as to whether they gave or received emotional support that day as well. Results showed that those who’d experienced stress were twice as likely to be compassionate or receive support.

woman feeling stressed while sitting at a computer
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While the increase in compassion is a positive side of the stress people feel, it’s not the only benefit stress can have. Overall, stress is negative and prolonged periods of it will result in a multitude of mental and physical health issues, but in small, truncated doses, the pressure can generate some positive side effects.

There are two different types of stress: distress and eustress. Distress is, well, exactly what it sounds like, the type of stress linked to negative experiences. Eustress is more of a natural, everyday pressure, such as assignment deadlines at school or a project at work. These types of eustresses can have positive benefits like helping to enhance motivation and build resilience.

In line with the findings from the Penn State study, both eustress and distress can also promote emotional bonds. Time spoke with professor of psychology at American University, Kathleen Gunthert, who explained that times of stress often lead to deepened interpersonal bonds thanks to the sharing of experiences.

So the next time you’re feeling stressed out, just remember the feeling is fleeting, and it might not be so bad after all.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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