Psychologist Kelly McGonigal did a TED talk that influences others to re-think about the way they perceive stress. Often, when we hear the word “stress,” we associate it with terms, such as “pressure,” “trouble,” and “tension.” When people feel stressed, they break into sweats and their heart rate goes up. This is why stress may affect responses and factors that increase one’s risk of getting heart disease. But, what if stress can be good for you?
A study was done at Harvard University in which the participants were told that their bodies were energizing to prepare them to meet challenges. When the participants viewed their stress response as being helpful rather than detrimental, their blood vessels stayed relaxed. In fact, their cardiovascular profile looked similar to when people experience moments of courage and joy. This biological change can increase one’s longevity by strengthening resilience to life’s challenges. Psych2Go shares with you 5 ways to turn stress into your best friend:
1. Don’t say, “I can’t. Instead, say, “I will.”
Practice this mantra every day. Don’t hold yourself back from a conflicting situation just because it would be easier to give up. When your body senses danger, it creates a fight-or-flight response. Train yourself not to run away. Stand up to fear and allow the challenges to motivate you rather than influencing you to cower.
2. Do something new that scares you every day.
It doesn’t have to be anything as drastic as skydiving, but by exposing yourself to new situations you never thought you’d ever want to try, it builds up your endurance to accept stress. Ask your crush out on a date. Move to your dream city. Join a social cause that you care about. Seize the day and treat every day like it’s your last.
3. Seek human connection and surround yourself with people who care about you.
Oxytocin is a hormone known as the “cuddle hormone,” because when you hug someone, oxytocin is released in your brain. But, it’s also known as a stress hormone. This is because when you’re experiencing difficulties in life, your body tells you to seek others for support to help you relieve stress. Learn to rely on your loved ones when you’re in need of guidance and reciprocate that support when they need it, too.
4. “Make it happen. Shock everyone.” —Anonymous
Go after your dreams, even if that translates to a more strenuous career. Don’t stay in what you’re familiar with just to avoid discomfort. Go after what is meaningful to you, because creating meaning will always be more fulfilling than settling. No resilience is ever built at a dead end when you don’t provide opportunities to challenge yourself to get better at something.
5. Trust that stress will help you become a better person.
Believe in yourself. Tell yourself that you can handle what seems impossible. You must always nurture your potential and let your fears disintegrate. Have the courage to choose motivation and keep your eyes open to what is ahead.
How do you turn stress into your best friend? Leave a comment down below!
McGonigal, K. (Director). (2013, September 4). How to Make Stress Your Friend [Video file]. Retrieved September 21, 2017.