In a stress test study conducted at Harvard University, participants were taught to rethink their stress response as helpful. When participants viewed their stress response as helpful, their blood vessels stayed relaxed. Their heart was still pounding, but they had a much healthier cardiovascular profile. It actually looked a lot like what happens in moments of joy and courage.
Step 2: Understanding that Stress actually makes you social.
Oxytocin Is a stress hormone. Your pituitary gland pumps this stuff out as part of the stress response. Oxytocin is a neuro-hormone. It fine-tunes your brain’s social instincts. It primes you to do things that strengthen close relationships. Oxytocin makes you crave physical contact with your friends and family. It enhances your empathy. It even makes you more willing to help and support the people you care about. But the key here is that Oxytocin helps heart cells regenerate and heal from any stress induced damage. All physical benefits of oxytocin are enhanced by seeking support AND helping someone else. Human connection is a mechanism for stress resistance.
Step 3: Remember CCR – Caring Creates Resilience.
Find someone to care for. Help your neighbor. Visit people in need. Give someone a Hug. The more you care the more resilient you become.
Another Study that tracked 1,000 adults in the united states found that people who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying. Zero. Caring created resilience.
The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you create resilience.
“Stress gives us access to our hearts. The compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others, and yes, your pounding physical heart, working so hard to give you strength and energy, and when you choose to view stress in this way, you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a pretty profound statement. You’re saying that you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges, and you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.” – Kelly McGonigal