Have you ever heard that stress is harmful for your health? I’m sure you have. Even if not directly from your doctor, mother or a friend I’m sure the message reached you through media – internet, radio or breakfast TV !
Most of us experience a lot of stress in life! And the awareness that stress has a negative impact on our health, increasing the risk of sicknesses – from a usual cold to arteriosclerosis and coronary disease – doesn’t help but it stresses us even more! We have it coded in our heads that stress is our enemy!
Meanwhile, the scientific research of dr. Kelly McGonigal is providing proves of something very different. Some time ago in the US the scientists did a study among thirty thousand people who were asked two questions:
– how much stress did you experience last year, and
– do you believe that stress has a negative impact on your health.
And for the following 8 years they were checking who died. The study reveals that the increased risk of death is being observed in 43% of the population experiencing a lot of stress in life – but… only among those… who believe that stress is harmful for their health!
People who experienced a lot of stress last year but reported in the study that they didn’t believe in the harmful impact of stress, stayed completely resistant to its harmful effects. Dr. McGonigal states with humor that if we apply the statistics to the number of deaths in the US in the recent 8 years, and the number is 182 000, we could conclude that about 80 000 of people died because they believed that stress was harmful for their health! And this is 20 000 people yearly. The statistic means that the believe in harmfulness of stress is the 15th most frequent reason of death in the US!
Do you still want to believe those who are telling you that stress has the negative effect on your health?
The study by dr. McGonigal described above is very interesting and she herself is a very inspiring person with a great sense of humor. I recommend you to learn more about her research work: kellymcgonigal.com
I also invite to a conversation about: what is my personal attitude to stress? Or even: what is my attitude to difficulties in life?
My impression is that recently we tend to believe in commercials too much and it seems to us that our lives should look like a commercial:
… sunny morning, working day of a week in a beautiful house, the father is in a hurry to his office (because he is a successful businessman but at the same time he is a relaxed handsome, a caring dad, an understanding partner and so on), the mother is serving breakfast with a smile on her face (although in a moment she will be alone in the house with the whole daily mess, she will be able to find time for herself anyway, and she is of course pretty, slim, intelligent, and she is not frustrated at all because of being a housewife), at the table there is also a teenager (not moody at all) , happy with being in a hurry to school and a little brother with a funny spark in his eyes and messy hair, there is still a dog there between the table and chairs (a Labrador of course!), the sun is shining through the window and the curtain is moving slightly with a fresh light breeze…
Where can you see or feel any stresses there? Does the family experience any stresses at all? Isn’t it that this is how everybody’s life should look like?! And what if it doesn’t?!
Well, I can assure you that for most people on this earth their working-day morning doesn’t look like that! This is just a commercial! I’ll tell you more – fortunately it doesn’t look like that! Stress is a natural element of life. Don’t buy this commercial because it would be as if you aimed to become a plant – with my full respect for the plants! And as a human being you have another mission to realize in this world!
Life is energy, and energy is a vibration. In the vibration there is place for everything – high tides and low tides, successes and failures, pleasures and… stresses!
Dr. McGonigal claims that as a result of 10 years of her scientific work she has changed her mind about stress – she stopped teaching people that stress is harmful for their health and they should eliminate or avoid it. Now she is teaching them that stress is our friend. It prepares our organism to deal with a difficult situation.
Quicker heart’s beats, sweating hands, shallow breathing – these are the signs that our organism is being prepared to act, these are natural, healthy reactions of our body which knows that it has to be fully ready. And there’s nothing to worry about. Everything is perfectly as it should be. Our body knows what to do. Trust it.
The study proves that when people think this way their blood vessels don’t get shrink – and this reaction is naturally associated with stress (as a consequence we may suffer from arteriosclerosis, coronary disease and finally have a heart attack) but they stay broadened. The broadened blood vessels mean being in a relaxation, when we feel courage and self-confidence.
The way how we think about stress can change your body response to a healthier one. If you encounter a difficult situation in your life and you feel your heart beating becomes faster, think: this is my body and it knows what to do, and it is helping me to raise to the challenge.
And now the best part – have you heard about oxytocin? It’s a hormone that is produced when we hug with someone… But it is also produced during stress! It has effects in the whole body then but the most important effect it has on our heart – it cures damages in the heart.
Oxytocin produced during stress makes us look for connection with other people – we want them to take care of us or we want to take care of them. Oxytocin opens our hearts! At the same time it cures our hearts! Another study, this time done for about one thousand of Americans during a period of 5 years, proves that life tragedies (financial crisis, family crisis) increase risk of death by 30%. But not for people who – when they experience the tragedies – still help others! In the study people were asked how much time they spent to help/care about others.
According to dr. McGonigal when we treat our body response to stress as a natural reaction of our organism that is to help us to handle life difficulties we create a biology of courage, and when we look for connection with others by asking for help or offering help, we create resilience.
This is as saying to yourself: stress is a natural element of life that’s why I trust myself that I can handle it. I also know I don’t need to handle it alone.
All the best!