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Dr. Oz: 'Good' stress can be beneficial

March 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
You could be working parent, a stay-at-home mom, a college student or just trying to make ends meet. We've all got something stressful on our minds. But as ABC's Dr. Mehmet Oz points out: Stress can be a positive force in our lives.

"We remember more things when we're stressed out, we focus better, we push ourselves and we feel pride, ideally, in what we're able to accomplish because stress takes our bodies and our minds to a whole different level," said Dr. Oz.

One study found people who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery had a better recovery than those who felt low or high levels.

Moderate stress helped patients realistically understand their circumstances. The low-level group was unprepared for the results. While those in the high-level stress group became so anxious about the surgery that they couldn't cope.

In another study, researchers found even though a person is experiencing positive stress, he or she should probably held off on making any big decisions like whether to make a big purchase or start a family.

According to a new report, if you're stressed like you're about to make a presentation, that is not a time to make a big decision. Stress changes how we view risk and reward. In other words, you tend to focus on the positive and ignore the negative.

"Short-term decisions, fine. But things that affect your future, such as, Should I get married? Should I live with this person? Should I get pregnant? Wait until you're in a calmer state to decide," said marriage and family therapist Dr. Sheri Meyers

Being under a lot of stress may not make us perfect at handling it, but experts remind us that learning how to deal with small stresses can help us train for larger ones down the road

"Harness the stress in a positive way and it will take you to all kinds of different places," said Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz says it's also important to know the difference between acute and chronic stress. He says people need to find ways to alleviate that constant, pressure-filled feeling with restful periods and activities that help connect you to reality -- things that help you see the bigger picture.