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The Flip Side of Stress

The kind of stress we so often hear about is the kind that makes your heart beat a little faster, gives you sweaty palms or makes your stomach flip. And, some say, stress leads to all kinds of illness and pain, structurally, biochemically and emotionally.  

But is there a flip side to this kind of stress?

To answer this, we must first explore what stress actually means for us in our modern day lives.

The well-known ‘fight or flight’ response is an important evolutionary reaction to perceived danger around us, whether physical or otherwise. It is an automatic physiological tool that takes over in the event of an emergency. And in these situations, it is VERY helpful. In the event of a survival response in your body, your nervous system is activated and a cocktail of hormones are produced in order to help you to run faster, jump higher, think quicker and see clearer.

Where the problem arises, however, is in the chronic long-term stress response to situations that are not actually life threatening – like relationship issues, financial hardship, or even a big presentation at work. And this is where we can learn to use the natural physiological responses that are inevitable, to our advantage…

In a study by Health Psychology, the results showed that those that viewed their symptoms as positive or benign were in better health and had better chances of longevity than others. So, if we begin to think about these physiological responses with respect and appreciation, and an opportunity to prepare you for challenging situations, it can help us with the forward momentum rather than getting held back. 

So, the next time your palms get sweaty, and your heart beats faster, thank your body; you can now walk into that situation knowing that your body is focussed, switched on and ready for what is ahead.

Prue Sturgeon


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