No, stress is not always bad. Here’s how to use it

Newswise – Sweat palms during a job interview. The heartbeat of a racer before he walks on the road. Abdominal pain before the final test. Most of us have experienced anxiety attacks in new, unusual, or high-stress situations.

But evaluating how a person views stress can make a big difference in a person’s mental health, overall well-being and success, according to Rochester University psychologists.

For their recent study shown in Journal of Experimental Psychology – General, Rochester researchers have trained teenagers and young adults to use their stress response in community college as a tool, not as an obstacle. In addition to alleviating the students’ anxiety, the group also helped the “good stress” resume to achieve high scores on exams, less time off, enroll in classes, and a healthy response to academic challenges.

To refresh their perceptions of anxiety, students completed standardized reading and writing exercises that taught them that their stress responses were effective in performance contexts, such as taking tests.

Rochester Associate Professor and Rochester Associate Professor and Chief Inspector of the University Social Stress Laboratory. It explores how stressful experiences affect decisions, emotions, and performance. The study builds on previous research on facilitating stress responses.


Questions and answers

Stress often leads to bad rap. How can stress really be a good thing?

Common sense suggests that stress is bad in nature and should always be avoided. This can sometimes be wrong because stress is a normal part of life and even a part of modern life. For example, students preparing for the first job interview may use the heart and sweat palms as a signal and “bomb,” in fact, the stress response is to deliver oxygen to the brain and release stimulants. .

Throughout their lives, people must acquire a wide range of complex social and mental skills, and then apply those skills to enrich them. This process is inherently stressful, but it is also important to be a productive member of society. It can also cost people dearly if they are relieved of the stress of life. Therefore, people need to find a way to thrive in modern life and overcome obstacles to personal and global existence, to accept and overcome difficult questions.

What is a stress assessment or re-evaluation?

In stressful situations, people’s empathy increases – it could be sweating palms or a fast heartbeat. Instead of thinking of everything as “bad” anxiety, stress responses, including anxiety, can be helpful when it comes to psychological, biological, performance, and behavioral outcomes.

Anxiety assessment is not intended to relieve or alleviate stress. It does not encourage relaxation, but instead focuses on changing the type of stress response – if we believe we have enough resources to address our questions – it doesn’t matter if the needs are high – treat them as if we can, our body will respond with a challenge, which means stress is not a threat but a challenge. .

What happened to the “re-evaluation” students with the control group?

In our study of community college students taking math lessons, we found that participants in the re-evaluation showed low math anxiety anxiety immediately and in the next test. Immediately after completing our review practice, they performed better on the test than the control team.

We then reviewed delays and goals outside the classroom. We only measure delays once – so I can’t say the result is there – review students report less delays, then predict higher scores on their next test.

We found that re-evaluation students reported additional presentation goals – ie, goals that focused on achieving positive results, such as winning a game or passing a test, rather than avoiding a negative result, to avoid losing or losing a game. Do not pass the test – this will affect performance and safety.

You looked at cortisol and testosterone levels in both groups. What did you find?

Broadly speaking, cortisol is a catabolic hormone, and high levels of anxiety. Therefore, although it is not always “bad”, it is often interpreted as a “negative stress” indicator, but testosterone is an anabolic hormone that supports good performance.

We have found that assessment fraud increases testosterone and decreases cortisol levels in students in classroom testing, which is an example of a high performance.

What advice do you have for parents who are worried about their children, especially during the current epidemic?

The first step is to separate stress from stress and anxiety. Stress is simply a physical reaction to any good or bad. Happiness, like anxiety, is a state of anxiety.

It is also important for parents to understand that struggles are normal and that they can grow with proper support. No one grows and develops creativity without moving beyond their comfort zone. For children to grow, learn, and succeed, they must cooperate with them and take on difficult tasks. The goal should not be to help children acquire Han, but to push the limits of their knowledge and skills. Taking that difficult math course and getting an intermediate degree may be more important for long-term success than fixing and easing a simple course.

Regularly adjusting stressful habits and overcoming past obstacles will help children understand that they can do difficult things. Avoiding stress, such as avoiding challenges, simplifying coursework, etc., can even hinder their progress.


The US Department of Education funded the study. In addition to lead author Jameson, the research team included Rochester Psychology Professor Harry Reese, and Rochester Graduate Students and Social Anxiety Laboratory members Alexandra Black, Hanna Gravelding, Jonathan Gordils and Libby Pelia.

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