In this TED Talk Kelly McGonical shares her research about the effects of stress AND the effects of our PERCEPTION of stress. In a surprising nutshell, it is our perception of stress that has the most impact. If we think it is bad for us then it negatively affects our health. But if we change our outlook and understand that stress has a purpose then the negative effects are diminished.
I have heard that it is crucial for us to experience stress to help us advance and grow. But I had not heard that our perception that stress is bad for us is what is bad for us. Changing our perception of stress can reduce its harmful effects on us. Once again the power of the mind-body connection is proven.
How Can Stress Be Good For You?
Many people fear stress and think of it as an enemy – that they can’t get away from EVER. We all experience stress. It has a purpose. It can be good – it propels us to create, evolve and make progress. It helps us grow and learn new things. When we come out on the other side of a stressful experience we often feel a sense of accomplishment. The physical reactions we have as a result of stressful situations do not feel good but they prepare us to rise to the occasion. It’s your body’s way of gathering resources – energy, adrenaline, stamina and resolve to get through.
So Is It OK to Feel Stressed All The Time?
No! This does not mean that it is ok for you to be stressed out all the time. It is vital that at some point you cool down and stop experiencing the stress. If we live in a state of chronic stress and rarely take time to decompress then we start to suffer. Then the body’s systems start to malfunction. For instance, your immune system may weaken or you start to experience adrenal fatigue.
You must take time to de-stress. Find something that works for you like going to a yoga class, listening to enjoyable music, or just having some quiet time to yourself.
Your Nervous System Is Like A Seesaw
Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) coordinates the function of your internal organs and is subdivided into the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). The PNS is often referred to as the Relaxation Response and the SNS is referred to as the Stress Response. We spend most of our waking hours in Stress Response territory. If given the chance, the Relaxation Response balances all that intensity out.
I like to think of it as a seesaw with the SNS in one seat and the PNS in the other. It is important not to let yourself stagnate in one or the other. The sign of a healthy nervous system is one that goes back and forth easily from SNS to PNS – from Stress Response to Relaxation Response. If you NEVER experience stress you will never be motivated to go anywhere or get anything done. On the other hand if you NEVER get some down time then systems in your body will start to wear out and shut down.
So relaxation is still good for you, but now you don’t have to be afraid of stress anymore.
How do you de-stress?
Share in the comments section below!