STRESS: ENEMY OR ALLY?

POSTED BY EDWARD ON 10th December2018

The vast majority of psychologists believes that stress is the principal enemy of every human being. Whenever we refer to the word stress, our minds will automatically think of an uncomfortable or unpleasant situation, which our brain will push back – as it does with every thought that troubles us in order to ensure our mental well-being. What if we made stress our ally, our friend? What if we managed to turn the ‘enemy’ to the weapon we will yield in every challenging situation?

The Scientific Approach

From a scientific approach, according to a US research, 43% of the participants had approximately 50% increased risk of dying, however, that was only true for those who believed that stress is harmful for their health. Nevertheless, let’s be the devil’s advocate and presume that the findings of the particular research are not reliable. It is widely believed that once we set our minds towards an end, we are halfway there. What if we treated stress as a way through which our body is equipping us to encounter and successfully overcome a stressful situation? The pounding heart is preparing us for action: when we breathe faster, more oxygen flows into our brain and therefore our productivity rate increases significantly. If we embrace that view, our body will eventually believe us and our stress response will be healthier. Making stress your ally is not easy as you will have to face your biggest enemy in order to reach that end, yourself. Before you start questioning this approach, recall the last interview you had that did not go well because you were too stressed and could not meet the high standard. How do you think you would have performed, had you treated stress as an ally? Would the outcome of the interview be any different?

Let’s assess another positive aspect of stress: it makes us social. In order to comprehend this side of the coin, we must take a closer look to a hormone called oxytocin. The latter is a neurohormone that files into our brain social instincts: it primes us to do things that strengthen close relationships by enhancing our empathy and increasing our willingness to help our beloved ones. Have I mentioned that oxytocin is a stress hormone? That’s right, oxytocin is an essential part of our stress response – like the adrenaline that makes our heart pound. When oxytocin is being released, it is motivating us to seek support, to share with someone close to us our emotions. Many of you may wonder ‘how will this make us live healthier?’ The particular hormone does not act solely on our brain but spreads through our body. One of our body’s main functions is to protect our cardiovascular system from the effects of stress. Our heart has receptors for that hormone which has been proven to strengthen it. In other words, our stress response has a mechanism to protect us from stress’s bad effects, the former being human connection. Prior to a stressful situation, the vast majority of people will contact someone close to them in order to get some support. That someone could either be parents, or friends or the person with whom you are in a relationship. How do you feel following that conversation with the person you contacted? Relieved? Does your heart beat go back to normal? In case you wondered why, you now know.

In Conclusion:

If you are one of those – like me – who get overstressed during an interview, a challenging task at work, a presentation in front of fifty people, take a deep breath and try to recall the content of this text. Your body is ready, and if your body is ready, so are you. Think positively and let your mind do the rest. All that Peter Pan needed to fly was positive thoughts and some stardust. Make stress your stardust, and you will conquer the skies.