Stress: How It Works And How To Beat It

It doesn't have to be this way

Stressed out. Under pressure. Run down. We tend to think of stress as a bad thing—and it can be. Traumatic experiences in early childhood can destroy mental health later in life, and chronic stress has been linked to illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. But stress can be good too. It helps us navigate an unpredictable world and determine which new experiences are good, bad, or dangerous. It also primes us to respond to similar situations in the future. The key with stress is to strike a healthy balance—getting enough at the right moments, but not too much overall. If the prospect of following that advice makes you tense up, take a deep breath: Science can help.

How It Works

How To Cope

Feeling Tense? Learn From These High-Stress Professionals

This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "The Science Of Stress."

What Is Stress?
You know what it feels like, but what's actually happening inside your body when your car dies or that important deadline looms? [Read More]Sam Kaplan
Why Do We Get Stressed?
It may not seem like it, but a little bit of tension can be a good thing. Here's why.Sam Kaplan
Strung Out? You're Not Alone.
Find out who's under the most pressure. [Data Visualization]Sam Kaplan
The Consequences Of Chronic Stress
Bad things happen when gripes get under your skin. [Read More]Photograph and sculpture by Jason Freeny/
How Strung Out Are You?
Take our stress test to find out. (No doctor's appointment necessary.)Asrar Makrani via Flickr CC By ND 2.0
These nine strategies can help you de-stress. [Read More]wiredforlego via Flickr CC By SA 2.0
Tested: Stress Trackers
Not all stress monitors are created equal. [Read More]Jonathon Kambouris
The Secret To Resilience
Why are some people better at dealing with stress? [Find Out]Pascal via Flickr CC By 2.0
Dealing With A Cancer Diagnosis
When it seemed like Tig Notaro's life was falling apart, she turned it into a comedy routine. [Read More]Dan Zen via Flickr CC By 2.0
How Astronauts Decompress
If you think your job is stressful, try going on a space walk. [Read More]mac_filko via Flickr CC By 2.0
Keeping Calm While Fighting Ebola
How doctors in West Africa keep it together in the face of a deadly disease. [Read More]Jay Reed via Flickr CC By SA 2.0