I recently learned a surprising thing about stress: it’s good for you.
But only if you don’t think it’s bad for you.
An 8 year study estimated that 182,000 premature deaths occurred in the U.S. (over those 8 years) not from stress itself, but from the belief that stress is bad for you.
The same study revealed that those who experience high levels of stress – but don’t think of stress as harmful – live longer than those who experience relatively low stress.
I learned all of this from a TedTalk given by health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal.
A positive outlook on stress can transform fearful feelings into courageous feelings.
The physiological response of stress (racing heart, sweating, etc.) is the same as the physiological response of joy and courage – but with one big difference:
-Feeling stress and viewing it as harmful causes blood vessels to constrict (giving rise to heart problems).
-Whereas feeling stress and viewing it as beneficial helps blood vessels to stay relaxed (giving rise to feelings of joy and courage).
McGonigal points out that another benefit of stress is that it can encourage you to reach out for help, making you feel more connected with others.
Of course I’m not suggesting that you go out and look for stress. As you know, stress will find you whether you’re looking for it or not.
What I am suggesting is not to stress out about your stress, remembering that it may be able to help you realize your courage.
This in itself will help you to feel calmer.
What I find really fascinating about these ‘recent’ findings is how it relates to the following ancient teachings and ties them all together:
- According to classical 5 element Chinese medicine:
-Water is the element relating to fear
-Earth is the element relating to sympathy and compassion
- In another indigenous tradition, I recently heard a beautiful prayer that referred to the rivers and streams as Mother Earth’s blood.
- I’ve recently come to think of the blood in our own human bodies as rivers and streams, and the flesh of our bodies as the earth.
Here’s how these all tie together:
When you feel fearful and stressed, the water element in you rushes through you full force. (increased heart rate)
If you judge the fear and stress as negative, you feel inadequate, close yourself up, and feel isolated. (constricted blood vessels)
But if you don’t judge the stress and instead hold it with compassion like the earth holds the water, the water can carry courage with it. (relaxed blood vessels)
And with this courage, you have the confidence to reach out for support; and to act in expansive ways that will bring more joy into your life.
Stress without judgment is courage.Stress without judgment is courage. Click To Tweet
I find it so amazing that nature has equipped you with everything you need to overcome your challenges.
Nature is in your body.
I want to thank a client who recently took the time to connect with the nature within her through The Path Clearing Process. She writes about her experience:
“The journey is full of tools and meditations to reset and re-look at the beauty we live in and with, each day. Particularly looking at how nature is always there to provide us the wisdom we need at that moment. New thought patterns emerge…in the 90 day [Path Clearing Process] you walk literally and figuratively with the earth.” ~Julie, Guelph, ON
Your earth and your nature allies are always here for you. They’re just waiting for you to become aware of this so you can benefit from the wisdom and power they hold for you 🙂
Lea Tran is a Plant Spirit Medicine Healer and creator of The Path Clearing Process, a 90-Day Life Purpose Re-alignment Program using nature’s support to ensure you are always moving forward, reaching your true potential in the most balanced and fulfilling way.
Spending time in nature is such a great way to experience freedom from judgements and mind chatter. In my FREE 7-Day Nature Connection Challenge, I show you how to connect with your nature allies in simple ways so that you can better overcome what prevents you from experiencing more joy and purpose in your life. You can participate in this fun challenge by opting in here: pathclearingprocess.com/7-days