Do you find yourself exhausted for no reason? Often the holiday season is filled with additional stressors that many of us struggle with to find a healthy balance. It has been ingrained in our society as this inevitable condition with severe consequences if left unchecked. An unavoidable reality and necessary evil that is apart of everyday life.
The overwhelming belief is that stress can make you sick. We see people everyday who suffer from a condition called adrenal fatigue. It is true that chronic stress can have a huge impact on our hormones and has even been scientifically linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Treatment options from neurotransmitter support, medications, acupuncture, and energy healing can aid in supporting this damaging type of stress..
What if going from exhausted to energized was as simple as changing your mindset? Health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal PhD, has turned how we THINK about stress upside down. Her mantra: Change your mind – change your body’s response to stress. She emphasizes that our stress response has a built-in mechanism for resilience – human connection. How you think and act can transform your experience of stress. A summary of her latest research is below.
Three Beneficial Types of Stress
- Challenge response – this type of stress helps you to rise to the challenge in a variety of situations like exercise, an academic exam, or a difficult conversation. It can increase your motivation and help you focus in a way that is different from the fight-or-flight response.
- Tend and befriend response – associated with increases in the hormone, oxytocin, which can decrease inflammation. This is the tendency for us to seek out friends when we are stressed or the positive stressful effects of parenting or caring for an aging parent. Women experience this more likely than men to have this type of stress response since estrogen enhances oxytocin.
- Growth response – This is a newer concept that stress can increase the neuroplasticity of your brain to help you learn from your experience. Research calls it the “stress index” of stress hormones (cortisol, DHEA) that can predict if you will be strengthened by a stressful experience.
Make stress your friend.
- Recognize your own natural capacity to thrive when under duress.
- Embrace your stress response instead of fighting – from sweaty palms to fitful sleep. Try to stop our natural tendency to want the situation to be something other than it currently is.
- Release your “shoulds” – I shouldn’t be stress out right now. I should be a better parent. I should be a better boss/co-worker. This only ramps up the harmful aspects of stress.