THE SCIENCE OF STRESS
People with chronic stress in their lives had a 43% increased risk of dying. But, that was ONLY true for people who believed that stress was harmful to them.
Anybody that knows me, my companies or has read my articles, knows, that I am a big fan of resistance. As much as you hate the tough times, they are the ones that
define you.. One of the biggest outcomes of tough and
challenging times is the STRESS that comes along with it. I have spent the last 2 decades avoiding stress, reading books, and practising yoga and meditation to avoid and control my Stress. It has led to my IBS and stomach issues, been the primary cause of my drastic and sudden hair fall to near baldness and played an influential factor in determining my workload. So you can imagine that I
was more than intrigued when I can cross the work of Dr. Kelly McGonigal on stress actually being good for! She suggests that we have been viewing stress all wrong. That stress makes you sick, weak and increases the risk of everything from cardiopulmonary diseases to Type 2 Diabetes and neurological disorders. That stress is the enemy. But there is a differing point of view that’s. emerging and the science behind it seems to back the latter’s point of view. There was a study conducted in the United States of over 30,000 adults over 8 years. They asked people How much
stress they feel they have or how stressed they are? They also added an additional question, “Do you believe stress is harmful?” Then 8 years later, they tracked public health records to see who died!
People with chronic stress in their lives had a 43% increased risk of dying. But, that was ONLY true for people who believed that stress was harmful to them. And it doesn’t stop there, another really
cool part to this, is that Stress Makes you Social. Here’s where one of my all-time favourite H&N (here and now) chemicals kicks in. You guessed it. Oxytocin. Yes, oxytocin has been much hyped, but after learning the following facts, you will believe its credit is well due. Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, is a neurological hormone that’s designed to strengthen close relationships. It makes you want to make contact with other humans, to seek and extend help and support. It makes you more compassionate and caring. Most people know this,
what most people don’t know is that Oxytocin
is a Stress hormone! Its secreted by the pituitary gland and is mostly released under stress. Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel. We are social creatures. Our
survival instinct is in packs. We are wired to seek help in the community. In other people. The Stress response in your body wants to make you notice when others are struggling. How does it make you healthier? It doesn’t just act on your brain but your
body too. Its main role in the body is to protect the heart muscles from the natural harmful effects of stress. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory and also keeps blood vessels dilated.
My favourite part however is that the Hearth has special receptors for oxytocin and oxytocin’s primary role in the stress response is actually to heal the heart muscles damaged from stress.
And all these impacts are exponentially enhanced by social contact. I find it AMAZING that your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience and that mechanism is human connection.
So we now know that stress is not actually ad for you and how you view stress matters Biologically speaking, the mental and physical effects of how you view stress can actually be the difference between you having a stroke in your 40s vs you living a very healthy life way into your 90s. It doesn’t really end there. I want to talk about another such study that was carried out recently.
The bad news first. People with chronic stress in their lives had a 43% increased risk of dying. But, that was ONLY true for people who believed that stress was harmful to them. In fact, and here’s the
amazing part, there was an extremely low probability of death amongst the category that viewed stress as not harmful. Even lower than those who claimed to have experienced moderately low-stress levels in their lives.
The study concluded that during the period of this study, 182,000 Americans died from believing that stress was bad for them! That makes believing stress is bad for you the 15th largest cause of death
in the united states. That’s more than causes such as HIV, Skin Cancer and homicide! What’s understood from this study is that changing your mind about stress can change your body’s response to stress. Think about it. What exactly happens to
your body when you are under stress?
Your heart pumps blood faster. To meet the possibility of facing the challenge that lies ahead, sending packets of extra energy to all parts of your body. Your breathing hastens, to give more oxygen to your system.
In a typical stress response section view, the heart rate spikes and the blood vessels constrict. This is probably why stress is so strongly related to cardiovascular diseases. However, for people who
view stress in a positive manner, the heart ate still spikes, however, the blood vessels remain calm and dilated.
The picture to your left has been compared to other emotional experiences and profiles closest to moments of JOY and courage.
Just viewing it correctly matters. If you see it right, your body will make stress work for you. View it more along the lines of “this is my body helping me rise to the challenge ahead” and your stress response becomes healthier.
A study was carried out of 1000 people in the united kingdom. This time the same question was asked– “how much stress the individual felt/ how stressed the individual was?”. But the added caveat was also how much time they’ve spent helping/ caring for other people. And then again, they went back to see how many people died. The bad news again – Every major stress experience amounted to a 30% increase in the death risk probability. However, it was observed that even the stressed people who spent time caring for others had absolutely ZERO stress-related deaths. Caring created resilience. How you think and act can transform your experience of stress. If You view stress as helpful, you create a biology of courage. What I love about this is the idea that stress gives us access to our hearts, that
compassionate heart that gives you joy and meaning in others. And your physical heart makes you prepared for action. Viewing stress this way is making a profound statement. It’s saying that you
can handle life’s challenges, and recognise that you don’t have to face them alone. I for one have always viewed stress/resistance that life threw as the reason that made me stronger. My take was always viewed against the light of character development. However viewing it in the light of a biological response designed to make us more human, make
us more caring to our fellow man /woman whilst physically making us stronger is a far more entrancing idea. One that bode well with the rest of my theories.
As a business owner and entrepreneur, we live on the edge and engage with everything we’ve got. Stress is ubiquitous in our lives. Viewing stress this way has not only changed my life and the lives of
those around me but synergised with my philosophy on life and the effects are evident. I now own and control my IBS and as for the return of my hairline, it has confounded the best of medical professionals. I hope that this article serves as an
intervention in your life and changes your body’s reaction to stress from that of fear and anxiousness to one of Joy and Courage as it has done mine.