My friend, Mimi, sent me a link to a TED talk called “How to make stress your friend” by Kelly McGonigal. I would highly recommend you click on that link and listen to her…but I’ll give a synopsis here. Kelly McGonigal PhD is a health psychologist, graduate of Stanford University, as well as a lecturer there. She’s got the creds!
So, the basic gist of the article is that stress can be good for you in many ways….but the most important is the way you react to stress. She references some studies that asked the participants, “Do you believe that stress is harmful to your health”….and then they looked at the death rates of those participants. Those who answered yes to that question died at a higher rate than those that answered no…even for those that had little stress in their lives. So, basically if you change the way you feel about stress you can change your body’s response to that stress. Everyone has those times when you’re sweating, heart pounding, breathing faster. For those that thought it was bad, their blood vessels constricted…not good…but, for those that thought stress wasn’t harmful their blood vessels stayed relaxed….their bodies were dealing with the stress. Think of those performers, Barbra Streisand/Meryl Streep, who have said they are terrified right before they go on stage and perform…but it makes them better performers. I’d assume they learn to accept the challenge of that stress and as they walk onto the stage they relax.
Ms. McGonigal goes on to explain how stress makes us more social. For those that seek help from friends and family in times of stress their oxytocin levels go up…and oxytocin is an anti-inflammatory, directly related to your heart response….more oxytocin, more calm, better bodily response. She also explains how caring for others…reaching out to help your friend’s and family in their times of stress….can also benefit you.
In a nutshell it’s the way you react to stress that can make you a stronger person and also cement those close relationships that we all need in our lives. Meditation, Zumba and daily affirmations help too!
I wish you all a stress-free weekend…but if you experience stress, I hope you’ll be able to deal with it in a productive way for your body and your life.
TEDtalks are awesome! You can learn so much from so many of them, but beware, you’ll get sucked in, so give yourself a time limit in front of that computer screen!