Daily Motivation: Stress

Welcome back to another Daily Motivation post, specifically designed to help guide logical and positive thinking. If you missed the last post catch up here and be sure to subscribe to be notified for the next post!

What if I told you I don’t believe in stress?

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy but don’t click away in frustration just yet.

A conventional belief in stress is one’s acceptance that troubling and trifling events may have a negative impact on one’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Whenever our workload exceeds what we think we’re capable of or when we feel like we’ve suffered unnecessarily, we have a tendency to react by becoming emotional and saying: “I’m so stressed right now”. One thing you probably didn’t know though, is that, that one sentence is more detrimental than it seems.

A recent study in the USA followed 30,000 adults in the USA for 8 years and asked them how much stress they had experienced and whether they believed that stress is harmful for your health. Using public death records, the study concluded that those who had experienced a lot of stress had a 43% increased risk of dying.

So… where’s the catch? Doesn’t that just prove that you should believe in stress and how harmful it is?

Well I’m so glad you asked. The catch was: this was only true to those who believed that stress was harmful for them. Those who didn’t, had no increased risk of dying at all.

That, in turn, would mean that close to 200,000 premature deaths in America weren’t from stress itself, but the belief in stress.

It’s all to do with how we choose to deal with things that upset us; the idea that your situation is only as bad as you choose to believe it to be. This philosophy isn’t entirely new either, Edgar Allen Poe expressed his belief in, “Ligeia”, that the human body only dies once you choose to accept it; citing philosopher Joseph Glanvill at the beginning. It’s quite an interesting thought: do we really fight all the way to the end, or is the end our final acceptance?

And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will. – Joseph Glanvill

There’s also some science behind mental positivity.  When we are stressed our body produces the hormone Oxytocin (also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’). Oxytocin is a neurohormone that encourages the brain’s social instincts. The hormone also protects your cardiovascular system from stress, as the heart has receptors for it; Oxytocin promotes the regeneration of heart cells damaged by stress.

But here’s the incredible thing about this hormone and why this post may have saved your life.

The release of Oxytocin is increased by instances of social contact and support, so reaching out to help or interact with others actually helps you recover faster. If you’re like me, when you’re feeling down you may prefer to keep it to yourself and battle it on your own — only wanting people to see/know you at your best. However, ‘bottling it all up’ really isn’t good for your health.

Further studies showed that those who suffered stress induced from familial crises or financial loss were 30% more susceptible to risk of death as oppose to those who spent time helping others – the latter were at no increased risk at all.

So, the philosophy is there, the evidence is there, and the science is there. It’s easier said than done but if you haven’t learned by now: most beneficial things in life are hard work.

My advice to you is: next time you feel as if you’re ‘stressed’ don’t ignore it or acknowledge it, instead convert that energy into something positive. When the tell-tale signs of ‘stress’ arise (heart beats faster, breath quickening, mind cloudy, etc.) tell yourself that this is your body preparing you to battle whatever life has in store of you. Instead of exhibiting fear, show that you can be courageous.

Be courageous by offering to help someone who needs you, show bravery by talking with somebody else about what you’re going through but instead of indulging in self-pity; opt to focus on what your next move is going to be.

Not only will you get more done, but your body will also thank you for it!



6 Comments on “Daily Motivation: Stress”

    1. Thanks Jade! I guess I’ve always tried to avoid acknowledging stress but at times I often questioned whether that was an ignorant thing to do. I ended up watching a TED talks on the subject and it affirmed a lot of it for me. It’s cited at the end of the post if you fancy listening to it 🙂

  1. I always love when the messages coming into my life mirror one another. I recently listened to a video (not a TED talk, though I enjoy those tremendously) about the fact that stress could be positive or negative, depending on how you view it. That was a revelation to me, since I’d always heard it talked about in a negative way. Your post gives even further great examples about how to not only view the subject, but also turn it into something positive. Many thanks!

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