We generally think of stress as a big, bad, disease-causing, killer. Yet mother nature didn’t give us the stress response to kill us. She gave us the stress response to help us stay alive!

For example, without this fight-or-flight response, a lion has no chance of catching its meal, and a gazelle has no chance of escape. All animals, including humans, need their stress response to survive.

Since it is impossible to eliminate stress from your life, learning how to stay on its good side is likely to be extremely beneficial for mental and physical health. If you can’t beat stress, join it!

So, what is stress? And how does one distinguish its beneficial effects from its harmful ones? Here we discuss stress and suggest that being compassionate may be one important way of staying on its good side.

Stress can be defined as a constellation of events that begins with a challenge (the stressor), that is detected by the brain (stress perception), that in turn activates fight-or-flight systems in the body (biological stress response). Biological changes are essential in order for a stressor to have an effect on mind or body.

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Dr. Firdaus Dhabhar

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