Don’t Reduce Your Stress – USE Your Stress
Are you stressed about being stressed? We hear a lot of talk these days about how all of the stress in our lives is bad for our health. It’s easy to find information out there with tips and strategies on how to reduce our stress. But what if there was more to the story? In fact, recently there’s been some amazing research that shows it’s more important to pay attention to our attitude about our stress. If we think stress is bad for us, there’s a good chance it will be.
Let me tell you about a study that was done with 3000 individuals in the US. These people were asked two questions. 1.) How much stress have you experienced in the past year? 2.) Do you believe stress is harmful to your health? Eight years later, they looked at how many people had died. The results were stunning! Those people who indicated that they experienced high levels of stress AND believed that stress was harmful had a 43% increased risk of dying. What’s so stunning? Those people who indicated they experienced high levels of stress BUT did NOT believe that stress was bad had NO increased death risk. In fact, their risk was less than any group in the study, including those who said they had very little stress in their lives.
Additional research has found that when we shift our thoughts to believing that stress is important for energizing our body and for preparing us to deal with our challenges, it not only changes our mental attitude about stress, it actually changes the way our bodies react to it. The physiological response looks similar to feelings of joy or courage instead of normal stress. For example, your heart rate still increases but your blood vessels don’t constrict. For more details, check out Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk and this article on 7 ways stress does your body good.
According to Kelly, “How you think about stress matters.” Maybe it’s time to rethink your views on stress.
Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge. She shares the Science of Success with organizations who want to create more positive workplaces and teams so they can activate their people’s performance.