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When Stress Can Actually Be Your Friend

Stress can be debilitating. Though there are moments when it feels like you can’t move through your stress, it’s important to pay attention to the signals that it’s sending your body. Hormesis— also known as “good stress”— can be utilized to make you more powerful and resilient in your day-to-day life.

Let’s break down what hormesis is and how you can biohack your stress to make it your friend.

Hormesis - good stress

Explaining Hormesis

Stress is the disruption of your body’s natural state of balance— also known as homeostasis. The body is designed to handle occasional stress. In fact, it responds to stress by increasing growth and repair to bring your body back to equilibrium. This process is known as hormesis. It’s your body’s positive response to minor stress.

Over time you can train your body and your brain to use hormesis to build an adaptive approach to stress which in turn makes you better at handling more of it. This article will teach you the best forms of hormesis that will prepare you to handle future stress.

Minor Stress


This is a no-brainer. Exercise is a form of stress that involves tearing and repairing the muscles so they grow back stronger. This type of stress helps you avoid future injuries making it a good type of stress to put on the body.

One of the best ways to increase your resilience to training is to incorporate HIIT (high-intensity interval training) into your weekly regime. HIIT has a particularly positive hormetic effect on your cells, teaching them to become more resilient when it comes to dealing with stress.

Make sure you also incorporate more rest and recovery after tough workouts to give your body time to repair and come back stronger.

high-intensity interval training

Utilizing Extreme Temperatures

Intense temperature changes, both hot and cold, have been proven to have positive effects on the body. They increase the oxidative levels of stress in your body forcing you to adapt. This works because of shock proteins. Shock proteins jump into action to protect your body from extreme temperature changes by protecting the cells and triggering full-body repair.

For example, cold exposure or cryotherapy forces your cells to produce antioxidants that protect your body from damage and inflammation which in turn increases your immunity. Heat exposure, such as infrared saunas, forces the proteins in your cells to become more resilient to stress and actually slows down the aging process.


It is best to use both hot and cold temperature therapy in small doses and work your way up to longer stretches of time.

Extreme Temperatures

Intermittent Fasting

In times of starvation, your body has to run at peak efficiency. So it conserves as much energy as possible while waiting for its next meal. Research has shown that using intermittent fasting (like you naturally do when you sleep for 8 hours) can help you live longer by making your cells more resistant to oxidative stress and protecting your brain cells from damage.

It is important to be careful when using intermittent fasting as you don’t want to run into symptoms such as brain fog, intense mood swings, or muscle loss. Research has shown that humans can withstand 16-48 hours without being exposed to these negative symptoms. However, it is always more important to listen to your body than to obsess over reaching an amount of time without food.

When your body starts giving cues that it’s time to eat, listen.

Intermittent fasting

Sun Exposure

UV rays are known to cause cancer, sunburn, and all different kinds of skin damage if you get too many of them. However, in small doses, sun exposure is one of the best ways to trigger hormesis. Natural sunlight is known to make your cells stronger and help protect them from cancers.

Appropriate amounts of sunlight trigger your body to produce more Vitamin D which drives the production of antioxidants, testosterone, and more. The amount of sunlight is specific to the amount that your skin can tolerate. You will know that better than anyone else. Always make sure to wear sunscreen to protect the skin even further while still reaping the benefits.

Sun Exposure

Facing Adversity

There are natural ups and downs in life that everyone must face. But doing so actually makes you stronger in facing future adversity. Neuroscientists have concluded that making it through a tough time helps your brain build tools and coping mechanisms to make you more resilient the next time you face adversity. You build neuropathways that help you get through tough times faster in the future.


Talk therapy is also good for helping you better understand your brain and the way that it responds to stress. If you ever feel like what you are facing is too tough to go through alone do not be afraid to reach out for professional help. It can make your brain stronger.