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Stress may be good for you, depending on how you see it

The last year of living in a pandemic has made human coping skills so thin that experts worry that many of us may soon collapse, leaving people all over the world facing catastrophic psychology Health crisis.

However, some people-in fact many people-manage to overcome the pressure just fine. Has the pressure of these people been reduced?This is certainly possible, because not everyone has done a basic job or lost a job During the pandemic, or worse, the virus lost a family member.

But it is also possible that they have mastered the art of treating stress as a normal, acceptable or even positive part of life.

Experts say that with this view, there is resilience.

Just like rock, paper, and scissors, elasticity can cover pressure.

Treating stress as harmful can kill

It was 1998. In the National Health Interview Survey, a random sample of Americans answered questions about stress, an annual household report designed to monitor the health of the country.
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The 1998 survey was not done in subsequent years. It not only asks people how much stress they are under and how they can cope, but also asks whether they think stress has affected their health.

Of the nearly 29,000 people, more than 55% said they were under moderate to severe stress in the past 12 months. Nearly 34% said that stress affected their health that year, and about a quarter of them said that stress worsened their health a lot.

Eight years later, the researchers compared these answers with national death data to understand who is most affected by the stress. Unsurprisingly, reporting high levels of stress does increase the risk of death.

However, the results of the research here become very interesting-this risk only applies to those who believe that the stress they are under severely damages their health. In fact, people who have a negative view of stress have a 43% increased risk of premature death.

What happens to people who are also very stressed who also think that no stress is harmful?

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal said that in the study, they had the lowest risk of death, even lower than those who reported little stress. Good at this. “

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McGonega wrote: “The researchers concluded that the cause of the killing was not stress.” “This is a combination of stress and stress. faith Stress is harmful. Researchers estimate that 182,000 Americans may die prematurely in the eight years of their study because they believe that stress will damage their health. “

Could it be a point of view?

Mark Seery, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New York at Buffalo, said: “Just because you are under stress does not mean it is destructive.” Seery has spent years researching why some people are. More resilient than others under pressure.

Seery said: “The evidence suggests that the way people experience stress seems to have an impact on whether stress actually causes harm.” He added that stress is affected by our “psychological way of treating things.”

He said, “This opens the door for people to learn how to relieve stress in more than less healthy ways.”

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To understand how things are going, consider what happens to your body under stress. The ancient part of the brain started to work-flooding the system with chemicals designed to prepare the body for battle or flight.

The heart beats, breathing accelerates, and the brain enters a state of high alert. Senses are enhanced; colors and sounds become clearer and more vivid. You will gain a burst of vitality and more focused attention, so you can respond to threats and survive.

This kind of “good” pressure can give you an advantage in fighting or fleeing an attacker, and it can also give you an advantage when playing competitive sports, speaking in public, interviewing and even adapting to a pandemic isolation zone.

Then, once the immediate threat is dealt with, your stress hormone levels will return to normal without long-lasting effects, which is naturally desired. This is a win-win situation, or if we look at it that way.

McGonigal said in an interview: “However, we don’t welcome stress responses. Instead, we usually interpret these physical changes as anxiety or signs that we can’t cope with stress well.” 2013 TED talk.
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What happens if we view stress response as a beneficial method (the way the body provides us with the best performance), like a well-tuned professional racing car waiting for the flag to drop?

“Thoughts are super powerful, and the key is that you can create ideas,” said Michelle Anne, a certified professional coach trained in neuroscience and leadership. “And when you learn to control your thoughts, you can readjust your reactions to bear stress, fear or anxiety. You can control yourself 100%.”

McGonigal described a study in which it was helpful to ask college students to reconsider their attitudes towards stress: “For me, the most interesting finding is how their body’s stress response changes.”

She said that in a typical stress response, the heart rate increases and “vasoconstriction” is one of the reasons why chronic stress is associated with cardiovascular disease (which is harmful to the body).

McGonigal said: “But in the study, when participants thought the stress response was helpful, their blood vessels remained relaxed.” He added that this is “a healthier cardiovascular condition.” It actually looks a lot like what happens at a time of joy and courage.””

Experiments on cardiovascular response to stress in Seery’s laboratory found similar results.

He said: “Whether it is a challenge or a threat, the heart beats faster, and the (heart) muscles are more difficult to contract.” “But when threatened, blood vessels are usually easier to contract, which actually makes it more difficult for the heart to draw blood.

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He added: “Under the challenge, this mode looks a lot like aerobic exercise. In fact, the arteries as a whole tend to expand, and the heart actually pumps more blood.”

McGonigal said: “This biological change may be the difference between a heart attack caused by stress at the age of 50 and a good life before the age of 90.” “This is indeed what the new stress science reveals-you How to consider stress is important.”

Your brain is under “good” stress

When observing stress through more rose-colored glasses, the brain responds differently, which changes the proportion of stress hormones released by the brain-experts say this can completely change whether stress becomes a toxic substance.

During a more positive response to stress, the body produces smaller amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which can be harmful at chronic levels. At the same time, the brain increases the production of another type of sterol, dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA, which is often referred to as the “anti-aging” hormone.

The ratio of DHEA to cortisol is naturally higher, which seems to prevent the negative effects of stress on the body.

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The best performance in military survival schools, men with less pain have a higher ratio of DHEA to cortisol in the blood. However, when men and women think that work pressure is unbearable, the production of DHEA will decrease.

The body also produces another hormone-oxytocin under stress. This “hug” hormone can help people fall in love, and mothers can also take care of newborns.

After releasing a more positive stress response, experts believe that oxytocin may lead people to seek more and better social interactions-another aspect of stress.

McGonigal wrote in her book: “Scientists call this a friendly response, which motivates you to protect the people and communities you care about. Importantly, it gives you the courage to do so.”

Daniela Kaufer, acting associate dean and professor of integrated biology at the University of California, Berkeley, says it can even generate new brain growth. Kaufer has his own laboratory dedicated to studying how stress affects the plasticity and degradation of the brain.

Kaufer’s research in experimental animals shows that moderate stress activates the growth of a part of the brain’s stem cells, which regulate emotional learning and contribute to depression.

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“You have more of these cells, and they are activated more in the next stressor, which helps the animal to cope better. Therefore, we have shown that certain stresses may be beneficial to you,” Kaufer said .

Magnigal says that releasing oxytocin during a stress response has another benefit.

She wrote: “Your heart has a special receptor for oxytocin that can help heart cells regenerate and repair from any micro-damages. When your stress response includes oxytocin, stress can indeed strengthen your heart,” she wrote Tao.

“This is very different from what we usually hear-stress can cause you to have a heart attack!”

Yes, the long-term pressure is heavy

Of course, there is no way to equate the short-lived daily stress with the lifetime impact of losing a loved one — many people do during the pandemic — or continuous multiple stresses such as divorce, single parenting, unemployment, financial insecurity and chronic diseases.

In fact, long-term stress that persists for a long time does cause great damage to the human body, which makes many existing diseases and conditions worse.

Seery said: “The more serious negative life dilemmas people face, the greater the risk of facing negative psychological and physical consequences in life.”

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But his research also found that if people encounter adversities in life, they will actually have fewer “negative and positive reactions” to stress.

Seery said: “It’s not just a straight line. The more things happen, the worse the situation.” On the contrary, it is more like a “happy medium”. People who have experienced some adversity in life often pass through various Different mental and physical measures make it better.

Seery said: “Therefore, an important message is that even if someone has something serious, it is not a death sentence, but it does not mean that they are destined to be harmed forever.”

“This shows that despite the difficult times, the process of going through the difficulties can actually provide some form of growth in the future, provide support for future resilience, and open the door for people to better deal with future resilience. Pressure,” he Say.

“I really see it as a message of hope, a ray of hope.”

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