I consider myself a rather huge nerd when it comes to self-improvement and health. I watch every single TED talk, read every book I can get my hands on and struggle through some rather dry academic research papers. This particular TED talk, given by psychologist Kelly McGonigal, is my all time favorite, though, because it changes everything about what we know about our health and our mind/body connection.
In summary, a study tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for 8 years. They asked them if they had high, medium, or low amounts of stress. Then, they asked them if they believed that stress is harmful to their health. What they found was nothing short of astonishing.
People who experience a lot stress have a 43% greater chance of dying, ONLY if they believed that stress is bad for you. Those people with a great deal of stress who believed that stress is not bad for your live as long as people low amounts of stress.
Headline: It’s not that stress is bad for your health (like we’ve been told), it’s your own beliefs about stress that effects your health.
This TED talk looked at the idea that the sensations of stress are actually helpful. They are your body’s way of helping your body to perform better under more extreme conditions. Your heart rate is increasing to get blood to your brain faster. Your breathing may increase which is getting more oxygen to your brain. When people believe this, they experience physiological changes in their hormones and blood vessels that are helpful to their long term health.
The great news is that you don’t need to rid yourself of stress, you only need to work with your ideas around stress. So, like a good life coach is prone to do, let’s examine your beliefs about stress.
What do you believe about stress?
How has stress helped you in the past?
How can you change your beliefs about stress to help you?
Think of 3 signs that you body is helping you when you feel stress.
Here are a few ways to keep stress in check.
Notice when you feel the stress response by paying close attention to your body.
Take your 3 deep breaths to get more oxygen to your brain and short-circuit the fight, flight or freeze response.
Realize that the stress response is your body’s amazing way to prepare you for challenges in life, and that it is not a bad thing, but rather an amazing way for your body to help you.
Know that your beliefs about stress are more important than the stress itself.
When it gets overwhelming, engage in some self care: talk to a friend, exercise, meditate, or any other healthy way you’ve found to feel good.
Trust yourself to handle the challenges
Connection with other humans when you are stressed lowers the stress response.