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]

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.

Strung Out? You’re Not Alone.

Find out who’s under the most pressure. [Data Visualization]

The Consequences Of Chronic Stress

Bad things happen when gripes get under your skin. [Read More]

How Strung Out Are You?

Take our stress test to find out. (No doctor’s appointment necessary.)

Coping

These nine strategies can help you de-stress. [Read More]

Tested: Stress Trackers

Not all stress monitors are created equal. [Read More]

The Secret To Resilience

Why are some people better at dealing with stress? [Find Out]

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]

How Astronauts Decompress

If you think your job is stressful, try going on a space walk. [Read More]

Keeping Calm While Fighting Ebola

How doctors in West Africa keep it together in the face of a deadly disease. [Read More]