Stress
is the body’s physical response to what the mind interprets as a threat,
causing the body to release Cortisol and Adrenaline. If we lived in the times
of our ancient ancestors, this response would be warranted; initiating this
reaction in dire fight-or-flight situations, to save itself from harm. But in
today’s society, being affected by the lungs pumping oxygen into the blood
stream at an accelerated rate, triggering the heart to beat faster and the blood
pressure to rise; delivering energy to escape something that albeit a threat to
our way of life, but is not necessarily a threat to our lives, is incredibly
harmful. Stress, in the YouTube video “Making Stress Your Friend” is all about
perspective; well at least that’s what I took away from it. When I think about perspective,
I think about the undisputed king of spin Ferris Bueller, and maybe even more
importantly his friend Cameron; in particularly the notable
scene, when the characters focus on Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island
of La Grande Jatte.” Cameron, centers his focus deeply on the face in the painting
until it dissipates into a cluster of spots. John Hughes, the director and
writer of the movie offered this commentary regarding the scene, explaining that
“the montage represents Cameron’s growing sense that his life is as meaningless
as those dots.” I believe that to mean that Cameron’s
problem, essentially stems from his perspective. A point that McGonigal
expresses in her Ted Talk.  

Kelly
remedied stress as a disease that makes people sick, but now she disagrees with
that original analysis. In a report that measured individuals’ emotional state
of stress, their viewpoint concerning stress, and drew a parallel against death
records. The people who were presumably going to die were more stressed than
the people who lived extensively longer lives. People who were extremely
stressed but did not consider it to be detrimental were the group less likely to
die. Kelly proved it wasn’t stress that killed people, instead it is the thought
of stress that does harm. We should rethink our mental response to stress, and
that would change the way our body responds to it.

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“When
stressed, your heart beats faster, you breathe faster, and you’ll break out
into a sweat. Normally we’d view these as signs that you’re not coping well,
but people could also be taught that your body is preparing for action. By
pumping more blood and breathing more you are preparing for something
difficult, and ready to take on any challenge. The harmful part of stress is a
restriction of blood vessels, which is associated with cardiovascular disease.
When people learn to see stress as a positive, the blood vessels do not
constrict. The body response looks more like it is full of joy. The next time
you are stressed, think about it as your body preparing you for the challenge. Stress
makes you social. Oxytocin is a neural hormone that primes you to strengthen
relationships, and help your friends. It is also known as ‘the cuddle hormone’.
But Oxytocin is also released as a stress response – to make you want to tell
someone you are struggling. Oxytocin is also received in the heart, to
strengthen, heal and protect it from the effects of stress. As you release more
of this hormone by being stressed or helping others, you increase your stress
resilience.”

There
was also another study held that compared how stressed people were, to how much
time and energy they spent interacting with their family, friends, community,
and that was also measured against death records. In generally, people who experienced
the most stress increased their probability of dying by 30%. On the other hand,
people who weren’t as stressed, who spent an abundance of their time
interacting with people forming good relationships, had no increased risk of
dying. Apparently, the way we think of stress is the way our body interprets it.
If given a choice in your job between a stressful one and one that is not,
Kelly believes “that you follow the one that gives you the most meaning, and
trust yourself to handle the stress that results.”

In
conclusion, Kelly explains that your perception of stress has a bearing on
whether or not it becomes harmful.  By
taking away the fear component of stress (due to the fact that it has been
evidenced not to be harmful physiologically) the body will be less likely to go
into peripheral vasoconstriction, lessening or preventing the associated
hypertension that is found to be one of the players in cardiovascular damage
within the stress response.  The role of
Oxytocin has been briefly explained as a cardio-protector, which she reported
salves the harmful effects of harmful stress-related hormones during the
response.  In other words, an
understanding that stress won’t kill you will allow you to simply work through
the stress in an appropriate manner, whilst lessening the negative side-effects
of the common negative fear response.