Make Stress Your Friend

We all experience stress on a regular basis.  Kelly McGonigal, prominent health psychologist, taught about the dangers of stress on your health for over 10 years.  She warned her patients that stress could lead to anything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Only recently did she find out that what she was teaching was not only wrong but it was potentially harmful to her clients. 

Her recent research shows that high stress ranks as the 15th leading cause of death in the US.  BUT, this only applies to people that believe their stress is harmful.   Those who experienced stress but did not believe it would harm them were no more likely to die than anyone else.  This led to further research on the subject that led to the following discoveries:

1) If you change your mindset about stress it changes the impact on your body.  Your bodies natural stress response increases your heart rate and breathing which energizes your body and flow of oxygen to the brain.  Your body is preparing you to rise to the challenge.  

2) Stress also triggers the release of the hormone "Oxytocin" which is the same hormone that is released when you hug someone.  The release of this hormone triggers your body to crave social interaction, which creates a natural support network to help you overcome whatever challenge lies ahead.  

Stress is your bodies natural way of preparing you to rise to any challenge by creating physical and emotional power.  It only becomes harmful if you view it that way.  The major takeaway from Kelly's message is that chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.  Chase your dreams and embrace the stress that follows. 

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