I wonder if you have experienced any stress in the past year? Does it seem like a question that you know everyone will have an answer to?
Some people when asked may say that they have had some stress, or a lot of stress and many many people will say that they have had an incredible amount of stress. Let's face the fact that we all experience stress in our everyday lives. Some more than others, but what makes a difference to how we see it and deal with it?
We all know the effects that stress can have on us. How can we manage that stress in a different way?
A study in the US tracked 30000 adults for 8 years. It asked:
“How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
“Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?”
They then used public health records to find out who had died! Does it sound a bit drastic? What were the results ?
They found out that people who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43% higher chance of dying....but...that was only true for the people who also believed that stress was harmful to their health. Of the people who experienced stress but didn’t believe it was harmful there were no more instances of death than would be expected. It could be concluded that this means that believing stress is harmful to you is the real problem rather than the stress itself.
So, here is what we can learn from this: if you change how you think about stress you can change your body’s response to stress.
By learning to view a stress response as helpful to you and your performance you can actually see a benefit.
How you think about stress matters.
You may not be able to change the stress but perhaps you can change how you think about stress? It is something that you may already start to ponder. If you can't change the things that cause you the stress perhaps you need to change the way that you allow them to affect you?
Just knowing that fact could make a small difference to the way that you think about stress.
The science behind our stress responses
The hormone Oxytocin, which is known as “the cuddle hormone”, because it is released when you hug someone, has huge benefits to you and the way that you feel about things. It helps you to become more compassionate and caring. I'm sure you would agree that is worthwhile!
However, it is a stress hormone and can be as much a part of a stress response as adrenaline. Why is it doing this? It is telling you to get help and look for support. Your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.
Oxytocin acts on your body as well as your brain. It helps protect you from the effects of stress. Your heart has receptors for this hormone and it helps to heal. So, when you reach out to others to seek support or to help someone else then you are helping to heal yourself.
Another study took place which threw up some very interesting things to think about...Scientists in the US tracked 1000 adults from 34 to 93. They asked:
“How much stress have you had in the last year?”
“How much time have you spent helping out others?”
Once again they then checked the death rate. This time they found that people who spent time caring for others showed no increased instance of dying unlike those who did not.
So, what can we learn from this?
When you choose to view your stress response as helpful and choose to connect with others under stress then you create resilience.
Reach out and ask for help.
You do not need to deal with stress alone.
Have you ever tried just taking out a few minutes for yourself during your day? Why not try my free relaxation mp3 just click here: and then Relax
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You can find out more about this and other research from psychologist Kelly McGonagal who studies these stress effects.