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How You See Stress May Increase or Reduce Its Impact

By Sandy Schroeder

We all talk about stress, because most of us deal with it daily, but we may need to take a different look at stress to really control it.

Researchers say people who believe stress is harmful to them may experience more physical effects of stress. Others may feel less impact when they see stress as manageable and even a positive motivation.

How to Make It Work for You

Finding ways to tip the balance in our favor as we face family, health and work-related stress could be a welcome breakthrough.

According to the New York Times, taking a positive view of stress could reduce its impact on us.

This idea came from a nine-year study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that looked at 28,000 people, studying how they viewed their stress. The results showed stress became dangerous to an individual when it was believed to be taking a toll on health. Then the risk of premature death increased by 43 percent.

Here’s an example of their reactions. Ask yourself what you would choose.

Situation – My heart is beating faster and I am releasing adrenaline and cortisol. What does this mean?

  • Typical Reaction: Stress is increasing my risk for heart disease and heart attack.
  • Alternate Response: My heart is working harder and my body can use that energy to meet the challenge.

Situation – I am stressed and I am breathing rapidly. What does this mean?

  • Typical Reaction: My rapid breathing means I am anxious, and it may affect my mental and physical health.
  • Alternate Response: I should take a deep breath. My faster breathing means more oxygen will go to my brain to help me think more clearly.

This philosophy of rethinking stress suggests the body’s stress response can help us in tough situations if we see it as a positive tool instead of a threat to our health.

Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal has been a strong supporter of rethinking stress. She suggests “making stress your friend” to become smarter and stronger.

A typical example of stress in the real world might be how you feel when giving a key presentation before an important group. As stress builds, you might take a deep breath, and remind yourself your body is gearing up to help you make a strong pitch.

If you have ongoing stress with physical symptoms you may want to check your symptoms with your doctor and then consider this positive approach.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Irvine, Calif.

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