New research from the University of Rochester reveals that not all stress is bad for us, and sometimes it can even be helpful, in the video “Why Some Stress Can Actually Be Good for You.”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Jeremy Jamieson explains that when we think all stress is negative we interpret any sign of it (like butterflies in the stomach before public speaking) as being harmful.

“But those feelings just mean that our body is preparing to address a demanding situation,” says Jamieson. “The body is marshaling resources, pumping more blood to our major muscle groups and delivering more oxygen to our brains.” Stress is helping us prepare for battle, whether fighting off a threat or facing an intimidating social situation.

These feelings can become useful when we re-frame the experience and re-interpret the feelings. In an experiment, when participants with Social Anxiety Disorder viewed their symptoms as a coping tool, they were able to reduce reactions in the body.

For details about the study and its findings, watch the video and read the (paywalled) article “Changing the Conceptualization of Stress in Social Anxiety Disorder: Affective and Physiological Consequences,” Jamieson et al, Clinical Psychological Science, April 8, 2013.