What if everything you thought was a given when it comes to stress—that it's negative, caused by an overload of work and unhealthy in the long run—is wrong? It sounds impossible, but new research suggests that stress might not be as toxic as we think. One study, first reported by the New York Times, looked at the psychophysiological signs of boredom and found that having too little to do actually tends to manifest itself in all the physical ways we link to stress, such as headaches, stomachaches and muscle tension; another found that when employees were shown videos showing the positive effects of stress (Lebron James making a free throw was one example), they perfomed better in high-pressure situations. All the negativity surrounding stress tends to be more damaging than the stress itself, researchers have found, so it's about reshaping our perspective and viewing stress as helpful rather than disabling. Here's an exercise to try: The next time someone asks how your week is going, smile and say, "Great, so stressful!"
Image via Everett Collection