We all know that stress can hurt us. But I recently learned that we might be much better at dealing with stress if we change our beliefs about what stress means. Indeed, the harm to our health may be more because we are stressed by stress than the initial stress itself.
Sounds like I'm talking in circles? Well, I just listened to the TED talk with Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal titled "How to make your stress friend." McGonigal admitted that after years of counseling on stress, she might be wrong. Stress must not be a villain we think it is.
If this sounds unexpected, McGonigal says she has "disagreed" with the idea that stress might be good. But her heart change was due to eight years of research on 300,000 people in the United States, all with different levels of stress.
The researchers asked participants how stressed they were, and whether or not they viewed stress as a health hazard. Since the eight years, the participants followed the deaths and compared the deaths with their answers to their questions.
Well, the people who were under great stress, and felt the stress was harmful, were much more likely to die prematurely. But, surprisingly, the people who had a lot or stress, but didn't think of it as harmful, had a lower death rate than the people with very little stress at all.
Heart and Stress
We've probably experienced the heart cluster and pounded when we feel overloaded. Over time, this is what contributes to great stress weighting heart disease and stroke.
However, cardiovascular stress on body of study subjects was significantly different as their attitudes to their stress were. The veins of those who thought they were struggling with stress became contractions, severely limiting their blood flow to their brain. But the covenants of people who did not believe stress were detrimental when they were under stress. Their hearts continued to race, but who hit the injured blood and oxygen they needed to face the challenge they were facing.
According to McGonigal, this ability to let stress pump more blood without narrowing the vein to the same reaction that the body experiences when we feel joy or courage. It's also what happens when we practice exercises. We need to get our heart rate to strengthen it, and a stronger heart means better health.
We experience physical stress as we lift weights, run with our kids as they learn to ride, or carry a load of groceries. And the more we do this, the more we can continue to do. We do not think about these types of stress as harmful. We must not think of them as stressful at all.
Can you change your attitude to reducing your stress on your stress?
For one thing, worried about the stress you already have, just think of unnecessary stress on top of anything else you're dealing with. So dropping concerns alone is a positive move. Understanding that your heart is waiting to help you could give you more courage, knowing that you will be strong enough to cope with stress as it comes.
We may recognize our stress as a sign of action. You might sit and love your problems, or use the stress mark to get up and try to fix them. We almost always appreciate better when we go to get it done.
We could use our stress marks to remind us to breathe deeply or meditate more. We could use it for fuel quickly, to get the blood pumping for any reason. What methods we use to address our stress now, the idea that stress may be our friend is worth considering.
In the next article, I will look at other McGonigals TED Talk sections, explaining how a particular stress hormone really keeps us in touch with each other.
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