When Stress Can Be a Good Thing
We know that long-term stress is linked to obesity, depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other problems. However, in small doses the stress hormone cortisol can actually be helpful. A short burst of cortisol, like what you get when you ride a rollercoaster or receive an enjoyable surprise, increases dopamine, which improves perception and attention. This beneficial stress, called eustress, is largely a matter of perception—it’s what gives us a feeling of excitement rather than dread. And perception matters. Studies have found that people who view stress as potentially beneficial are less negatively impacted by adverse life events than people who think stress can only be bad.