We constantly hear about how unhealthy stress is – how it’s the root of many conditions and illnesses, small and large.
You’ve probably heard that stress can cause…
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
… and much more.
Those are all potential risks in cases of chronic stress.
But could some stress be necessary for bioenergetic balance and optimal health?
If so, how can you know if you need more healthy stress?
How can you integrate healthy stress into your life?
Let’s dive in.
First of all, what is healthy stress
Healthy stress, also known as hormetic stress, is positive stimulation – the ideal level of stress for your body, in your current condition.
When you have too little stress in your life, you may feel lethargic, numb, bored, tired, apathetic, sick, or unchallenged.
Think about how you feel on a hot day, when you’re not doing much, and there’s nothing that feels really exciting in your life.
If you continue to feel bored, apathetic, and perhaps numb, you could develop an increased risk for certain disorders and diseases.
This is somewhere the mental and physical are closely connected.
Now, imagine jumping into an ice cold lake on that hot day.
How would you feel after that
Awake, alive, and maybe a little shocked.
That’s a good thing – that’s hormetic stress.
Hormetic stress has the potential to increase health, resilience, and vitality by restoring and maintaining your energy on the bioenergetic level.
What are the benefits of healthy stress?
Healthy stress may…
- Increase energy
- Improve immunity
- Increase life span
- Lower the risk of disease
- Reduce allergies
- Stimulate muscle growth
- Increase balance
- Improve memory
- Support tissue repair
- Improve mental clarity
- Increase metabolism
It also has the potential to increase your stress tolerance, so you can handle lifestyle stress – like career challenges, relationship trouble, and financial struggles – more effectively.
What are a few sources of healthy stress, aka hormetic stress?
- Cold therapy.
Diving into that cold lake, plunge tub, or taking a cold shower has lots of benefits.
When we quickly change our temperature, we create healthy stress.
Studies have shown that cold exposure can boost immunity, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, reduce pain, and even help with migraines.
- Heat therapy.
Sitting in a sauna, steam room, or jacuzzi can stimulate healthy stress by changing your body temperature.
Heat therapy has been shown to increase feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin, prevent the onset of certain diseases, increase lifespan in animals, and help manage arthritis symptoms.
A challenging exercise session can stretch your body beyond its norm by increasing your heart rate and putting healthy stress on your muscles.
Exercise can reduce unhealthy, chronic stress, reduce the risk of heart disease, help support a healthy weight, and much more.
Restricting calories or practicing intermittent fasting has been shown to produce mild “dietary stress” that can be beneficial.
Certain forms of fasting may decrease inflammation, increase metabolism, boost immune function, improve heart and lung function, and support healthy sleep, among many other benefits.
- Brain games.
Challenging crossword puzzles, strategy board games, and even online video games may trigger hormetic stress.
Anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges your brain could be beneficial.
Brain games can strengthen your memory, help delay the onset of certain disorders, improve your mood, and sharpen your focus.
More and more research is reflecting the importance of hormetic stress, especially when it comes to disease management and longevity.
Some findings even show that hormetic stress may be one of THE most important factors in good health.
Yet we’re taught to be so scared of stress.
When you Google “benefits of stress,” pages of results tout the negative effects, and how to reduce stress. It’s hard to find any positive articles.
Everyone on Instagram is teaching you how to calm down with breathwork and meditation, but what if a little hormetic stress is exactly what you need?
After reading the info we’ve shared today, do you think you could use more healthy stress in your life?
Here at the NES offices, integrating healthy stress into our routines has been game-changing for so many of us.
We hope these practices support you like they’ve supported us.
Founder, NES Health