Stress kills ! or does it? Recent research shows stress can be good for your heart
We are used to hearing the phrase “Stress kills” or the need for “stress reduction” techniques especially for people who are at risk of heart attack. But recent research has shown that Stress can actually be healthy for the heart. It all depends on the way you respond to stress and the secret is to reach out to others.
In a recent Ted talk, Kelly McGonical, a health psychologist, claimed that we should rethink our approach to stress. She described a recent study, in which they tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for eight years, and they started by asking people, "How much stress have you experienced in the last year?" They also asked, "Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?" And then they found out who died from public records.
People who experienced a lot of stress indeed had a 43 percent increased risk of dying, but only if they believed that stress was harmful for their health. People who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful were no more likely to die. They actually had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including people who experienced relatively little stress.
Adrenaline is not the only hormone active when our body is under stress. Oxytocin plays a major role in the body's ability to handle stress. It acts on our brain and on our body, and also protects our cardiovascular system from the effects of stress, by helping blood vessels to stay relaxed during stress. It's also been shown that oxytocin helps heart cells regenerate and heal from any stress-induced damage. This hormone may actually strengthen the heart, and its effect is even stronger by social contact and social support, so when you are under stress and seek the support of friends or family, your body releases more of this hormone, your response to stress is healthier,
and you may recover faster.
Ms. McGonical said her goal as a health psychologist is no longer to get rid of stress, but to help people become better at stress.
So next time you feel the adrenaline rush, and your heart beating under stress, please remember to say to yourself that this is your body helping you handle life's challenges and reach out to a loved one or friend.
This could save your life.