The experience of stress is simply the experience of adaptation. As living organisms, we are made to adapt to the demands of the environment around us. A person’s reaction to stress follows ans inverted “U” shaped curve, and with small exposures to stressors, we become more conditioned to the environment as we adapt. This allows limited stress exposure to enhance novel problem-solving and creativity with the help of our frontal lobes.
However, as the stressors mount or intensify, the body switches to an energy conservation mode and shuts down many of the non-essential bodily functions, and this includes that of frontal lobe function (thus creativity).
One of the biggest determinate of how well we age is how effectively we can manage stress. Since the experience of stress is strongly related to the development of diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and auto immune condition, aggressively controlling stress is critical to successful aging.
The biggest thing to keep in mind while managing stress is that individual stressful experiences are additive…that is, the more individual stressors we experience in a given period of time, the greater the vulnerability one has to stress related disease, disability, and injury.