“Stress is killing me.”
The surprising facts about stress.

"Nessun Dorma" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Nessun Dorma” by Mimi Stuart ©

Research shows that having stress is healthier than having little or no stress at all, as long as you have some control over your life. People who have some stress and some control over their lives tend to live the longest, feel happiest, and have the strongest immune system. Thus, active participation in directing your life with its built-in difficulties turns out to be better for you than passive acceptance of an easy life or feeling helpless in face of a difficult life.

Stress triggers release of cortisol in your body, and having too little cortisol can be just as unhealthy as having too much. Moreover, research shows that simply embracing stress rather than trying to get rid of stress causes people to handle difficulties better, and makes stress less likely to lead to depression, divorce and health problems.

This is good news, because an interesting and enjoyable life involves taking risks and facing the unknown, both of which are inherently stressful. The more practice we get in dealing with uncertainty and hardships, the more confident we can be in our approach to life. The more actively we endeavor to face and deal with challenges, the better we become at taking appropriate action, and the healthier the accompanying stress is to our system.

Imagine that you are deciding whether to take on a stressful job or a stress-free job. Consider first that there is a point where having too much going on in your life can cause you to lose control over your life. However, if you have too little going on in your life, your passivity and boredom are likely to lead to unhappiness and a feeling of meaninglessness or emptiness. Thus, it is important to pursue what gives you meaning and that you gain the confidence to handle the accompanying stress.

Taking control of your life means taking positive steps to deal with challenges. Such positive steps include the following:

• prioritize what is important in your life,
• face your difficulties head on,
• take steps to change what you can about any given situation,
• change your perspective about circumstances you cannot change,
• develop your sense of humor,
• take care of yourself physically and emotionally.

By all means, take risks!

It is key to recognize that even when we don’t have control over external circumstances, we do have control over our perspective, attitude and response to external circumstances. Thus, Viktor E. Frankl survived the holocaust.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

~Viktor E. Frankl

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Watch Ted Talk by Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

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The surprising facts about stress.

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