When I hear the word stress, I associate it with negative workplace things; “I’m so stressed out,” “the stress is killing me,” “I need a break from this stress!”
But research is showing that stress is actually good for you, at least a certain amount is. Research conducted by Elizabeth D. Kirby at UC Berkeley showed that being exposed to moderate stress actually caused an increase in neurogenesis, or growth of neural stem cells, critical to learning and memory.
What I found particularly interesting is that the increase in neurogenesis happens two weeks after the exposure to stress, because that’s how long it takes these cells to grow. So I’m going to have to think about stress I’m exposed to – and how I feel a couple of weeks later.
Kirby also felt that her research reiterated the well-known “inverted U chart” (pictured above) findings showing that exposure to stress is good for a person, but only up to a threshold, after which it starts to become detrimental.
Managers and employees alike should keep this research in mind. We want a certain amount of stress – the trick is knowing how much. In my next blog, I’ll list some tips for how to recognize when the “good” limit has been reached.