Just a thought: if I were to tell you that what you choose to believe about stress could save your life would you believe me? By changing the way you think about stress, you can improve your health and enhance your level of happiness. You will also improve your ability to connect with others, and improve your life expectancy. ‘Really?” I hear you cry.
A massive research study conducted in the US a few years ago demonstrated that people who had experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43% increase in their risk of dying. The study then went on to reveal that if you didn’t believe that stress was harmful you were actually less likely than the norm to die.
Kelly McGonical is a health psychologist, and for years like so many of us was spreading the word that stress is harmful. In her brilliant TED talk she shares the complete paradigm shift this research brought about for her. If we change the way we think about stress this alters the body’s response. If you think about it the outward signs of stress and excitement are pretty similar: the heart beats faster, you breathe more rapidly. Think some more and you could start to see that if you are feeling stressed about a situation and you experience those symptoms they could be a
If you think about it, the outward signs of stress and excitement are pretty similar: the heart beats faster, you breathe more rapidly. When your heart beats faster so you are more ready to react. When your breathing is more rapid you are getting more blood to your brain. How you think about stress matters. It is your body helping you to rise to the challenge. But when you believe stress is a problem it is.
Here are three things you might try:
- Next time you feel stressed think about how this heightened state might be helpful. Perhaps it is the adrenaline that will help you complete the task faster. Or the alertness that can help you focus more clearly.
- Try thinking of it as a helpful signal. Often when we feel anxious to the point of overwhelm because we are thinking too far into the future. When you bring your thoughts back to the present and focusing on one thing you overcome that feeling of paralysis.
- Imagine the possibilities! If your mind is that powerful that it can alter your body’s response at a physical level just through what you believe about stress, imagine how you can positively affect your overall health by thinking positively. For inspiration check out Dr. Bali and Dr. Christiane Northrup.