Your Mindset and Beliefs Can Shape How Stress Affects You

Your Mindset and Beliefs Can Shape How Stress Affects You

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Stress sure does get a bad rep. It’s as if stress was an ugly, two-headed, evil monster - we really give it a hard time. We think of ways to defeat it, bust it, beat it, and completely rid ourselves of it any chance we get. We enlist specialized massage therapists to rub it away. We even try to take vacations away from it.

However stress, just like vomiting, is a natural, physiological response. It may not always feel the best in the moment…but it means the body is doing its job!

How you respond to stressful situations is really all in your head.

In other words, the difference between stress being a horrible, nasty thing and stress being a wonderful, amazing thing is actually based on how you perceive it.

Your mindset makes your reality.

There is even hard, irrefutable scientific evidence to prove this point!

A 2012 study out of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health asked a test group about the levels of stress they had experienced in a calendar year. They then asked the participants if they believed stress was harmful to their health.

The bad news: people who reported high stress levels over the course of the year had a 43% increased risk of death! Youch!

But wait…that percentage only held true for the participants who had high stress AND believed stress was harmful! When compared with the participants who had a lot of stress but believed stress to be beneficial, they actually fared better than any other sector. Yes, even the sector that reported low stress levels! The researchers concluded at the end of the study that based on the statistics…

…over twenty thousand people die yearly because of their BELIEF that stress is bad!

If you were to compare that to the CDC’s list of leading causes of death in 2012, stress beliefs would come in at number 15! It would beat out skin cancer, HIV, and homicide.

Another study done by Harvard Medical School in 2013 taught one group of study participants that stress is helpful in the sense that it prepares your body to take on challenges: increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate to boost your performance. A second group was not instructed to consider stress in an alternative or positive way. The researchers then studied the physiology of the participants’ blood vessels. In most stressful situations the blood vessels constrict to rush blood to the extremities, similarly to when you block off a part of a water hose with your thumb, making the water rush out faster and with more pressure. Amazingly, the group that was taught to think positively about stress did not show evidence of blood vessel constriction. Instead they stayed relaxed – the same response as that of individuals observed by researchers during times of joy and/or courage.

The bottom line – change your mindset and you can change your physiology to live a happier, healthier life.


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