I have a confession to make. I was wrong about stress!
On the plane back from my honeymoon, I watched a great TED talk by psychologist Kelly McGonigal on stress, and I am changing my tune now too! She shared a new viewpoint based on scientific research which I did not know about. Thanks Kelly 🙂
Just like Kelly, I have believed that stress makes you sick, causes cardiovascular disease and a myriad of other harmful dis-eases in the body.
In short, the study she speaks about in this TED talk notes that the people who experienced high stress had a 43 percent higher death rate, but this number only pertained to the people who thought stress was harmful, so how the people in the study viewed stress was pinnacle to the results of it on their bodies! So, the way we perceive stress plays a big roll in how it effects our health! Sounds a little bit like how I talk about upset being access, and there is cool scientific evidence here!
Changing how we think about stress can change our body’s response to stress.
What if we could re-think about our stress response as helpful and a great preparation for life?
When we are stressed our blood vessels constrict; but in another study she cites, when thinking stress is helpful, blood vessels did not constrict and actually stayed open the same way they do when we feel joy or courage.
Try this thought on next time you feel stress:
“This is my body helping me to rise to this challenge.
One of the most under appreciated values of stress is the secretion of oxytocin. Its a neuro-hormone; it primes you to do things that make you crave physical contact and causes you to become more compassionate and caring.” – Kelly McGonigal
And, it’s an actual stress hormone and gets secreted the same time as adrenaline when we are stressed!
This was mind blowing news for me!
Oxytocin motivates us to seek support, tell someone how we feel, and it helps us notice when someone else we know is needing support. It brings us closer together!
From a physiologic standpoint, oxytocin acts on our brains and bodies, and it helps protect our cardiovascular systems!
It helps our heart cells heal from any damage we have incurred from stressful events.. It ACTUALLY, PHYSICALLY HEALS our hearts as well as keeping our blood vessels from constricting. And, it drives us to seek human connection, which is one of the most effective ways to alleviate stress.
So how much time do you spend helping others?
In another study Kelly talks about, people who spent time caring for others had a greater physical resiliency than those who do not.
So, when we view our stress response as helpful, we create the cellular response of courage.
When we are stressed and seek others, we heal our hearts.
And, when we choose to view stress as helpful, we are telling ourselves to trust ourselves and to stand up to life’s challenges. Its healthier for us to ask for help, seek out connection and NOT go it alone.
We knew love was healthy, and now stress too!
Thanks again, Kelly!
She also says:
Chasing meaning and going after what is important to us in our lives, then trusting we can handle the stress, is way better than avoiding stress.
I am going to add: going for it, then doing my stress relief posture from two weeks ago will also flood the body with other good hormones in addition to oxytocin. It takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes to feel the results of it! Its faster then a pill! Click here for the link to Kelly’s TED talk on How To Make Stress Your Friend and check out the video below, explaining this stress relief exercise!
Much love and resiliency,