How Do We Make Stress Our Friend?

Inspired By  Kelly McGonigal
14 mins

Quick Summary

How you think about your stress matters! New research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. By making better decisions around how we deal with stress we release more hormones into our body which helps recover from stress faster. This is a great video with some insights on how you can manage your stress better.

Some key insights from Kelly

When you view stress as your body helping you rise to the challenge, your body believes you and your stress response becomes healthier.

Oxytocin - the cuddle hormone

Oxytocin is neurohormone, it fine tunes your brains social instincts. It primes you to strengthen close relationships. It makes you crave contact with your friends and family, gives you more empathy and makes you more willing to help and support the people you care about.

Having said that, oxytocin is a stress hormone. Your pituitary gland pumps this stuff out as part of the stress response. It’s as much a part of the stress response as the adrenaline that makes your heart pound.

When oxytocin is released in the stress response, it is motivating you to seek support. Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel instead of bottling it up.

Your stress response wants you to notice when someone else in your life is struggling so that you can support each other.

When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.

How is knowing this side of stress going to make you healthier?

Oxytocin helps heart cells regenerate and heal from any stress induced damage. This stress hormone strengthens your heart and all of these benefits are enhanced by social contact and social support. So when you reach out to others for support, you release more of this hormone. Your stress response becomes faster and you recover from stress faster.

Your stress response has a built in mechanism for stress resilience and that mechanism is human connection.

When you choose to experience your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. When you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.

Stress gives us access to our hearts. The compassionate heart that find joy and meaning in connecting with others. And yes your pounding physical heart working so hard to give you strength and energy.

When you choose to feel stress in this way, you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a pretty profound statement. You’re saying that you can trust yourself to handle life challenges and you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.

Chasing meaning is much more better for your health then trying to avoid discomfort.

That’s really the best way to make decisions - go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.

TED Talk

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