How often have you heard phrases like “stress is a killer” or “ I just want a stress free life”. If there’s nothing else we’ve learned over the past four months, we can’t eliminate stress from life and neither should we try to.
As many of us are returning to post lockdown life – some like an Olympic sprinter and many tentatively just dipping the toe, testing the water, others are deciding they preferred lockdown for all sorts of reasons. Undoubtedly stress and anxiety are having a significant impact on coping with our life’s plan.
Simply by adjusting our thinking to the situation, our lives can improve significantly. Scientific studies evidence how we deal with stress affects our health. It can deplete our immune system and cause colds and general sickness and can be a major contributor to premature death.
A study over 8 years in the U.S involved 30,000 adults being asked two principal questions:
“ How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
“ Do you believe stress is harmful to you health?”
Those who experienced significant stress had a 43% increased risk of dying prematurely BUT interestingly that applied only to those who believed stress was harmful to their health. Those at lowest risk did not view stress as harmful. Even those with less stress had a higher risk of dying prematurely because they thought stress was harmful.
How we think about stress matters!
When we regard a stressful event in a fearful, frustrated or avoiding way, e.g an interview, exam or going to the supermarket, our body reacts to match – our heart is pounding, we have a sweaty brow, our mouths dry up. During all this our heart vessels constrict and doing this repeatedly over a period of years …… you can guess the rest.
Good news – we can change! We can change our interpretation of our body’s stress response. When we make a shift in how we see stress we alter our body’s reaction to it. By welcoming the body’s stress signals as part of the mechanism for coping and dealing with the situation, we soon develop natural courage.
Another important contributor to a changed attitude to stress is oxytocin. When under stress, the nurturing “cuddle hormone” is pumped out by the pituitary gland and motivates us to seek support: talk to a friend, encourage us to seek out people we care about for support instead of bottling it up.
Also oxytocin protects your cardiovascular system and it helps regenerate and heal from the damaging effects of stress. It is our own built in mechanism for resilience. Another study showed people who had experienced stress but also spent time helping out friends and members of their community showed absolutely no stress related increase in dying.
So harmful effects of stress on health are in no way inevitable if we:
• see the stress response as a helpful courage building biological benefits
• choose to connect with those we care about, creating resilience.
By viewing stress in this way we can reopen our doors and carefully venture out again knowing you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you don’t have to face them alone.
Often it can take a little help from a hypnotherapist like me to change routine thinking and if you would like an appointment or a chat first, please get in touch with me on 07795964066 / cardiffhypnotherapysolutions.co.uk