In this video Psychologist Kelly McGonigal speaks about the perception of stress as well as the adverse, and in some cases deadly, effect it has. Kelly McGonigal claims that stress is actually the body’s process of preparing to work at a heightened capacity. If we perceive that stress is actually beneficial, the body stress response is shockingly different.
Perception and stress
Humans used to live in caves, carried huge logs over their shoulders and used birds as phonographs (if cartoons are to be believed). Back then stresses were a lot more life threatening than getting chewed out from your boss or forgetting your charger at home. Your body when you’re getting chased by a 5 ton primitive crocodile acts very differently than when you’re getting into an argument with your supervisor. Stress tells the body: GO! Blood pumps quicker, blood vessels in the limbs contract and secondary brain functions are restricted in lieu of more crucial functions for escape. Now think of stress at work, you have a deadline barreling down at you and your boss is just ready to take a piece out of you if you miss it. If you use the functions of stress correctly instead of locking up, this can actually assist you in completing your tasks.
‘Good’ Stress could repair the heart
The hormone oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone (because it’s released during moments of high social cohesion and intimacy), actually has been proven to repair the heart. Another new finding about oxytocin is that it’s released during the bodies stress response. Contrary to popular belief, oxytocin can actually protect and repair the heart during stressful moments.
Essentially when you’re talking about good stress, you’re talking about less stress. Stress has become a synonym for the negative mental and physical effects of it. Stress, when perceived positively, will essentially become a rush, it will energize you. No more will stress make your chest tighten, make you anxious and lose focus; in fact it will do the exact opposite.
More Cuddle Hormone
Another effect observed of oxytocin is it relaxes blood vessels. Relaxed blood vessels mean more oxygen, more oxygen means a quicker physical and mental response to adverse situations.
Accepting the stress response as helpful
Harvard students underwent an intense mental exercise test, but before they began, they were told to use stress as an energizer instead of an inhibitor. The results showed that the students exhibited all the characteristics of being in a stressful environment, but, they did not show any of the negative effects.
Have you trained yourself to perceive stress differently or would you like to modify your behavior to be less effected by negative stress? Please feel free to let us know how you feel about this and discuss it in the comment section below!
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