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: …