It seems that today we live in the era of stress. Nerves, anxiety and stress are part of our day to day almost very naturally. The amount of daily tasks that we have to carry out, the self-demands that we set ourselves or trying to achieve the objectives that we have in mind, usually generates a lot of pressure. Among other things, this results in a very high percentage of consultations with the GP or consultations with us, the psychologists, being due to emotional problems related to stress and anxiety.
Well, this reflection leads us to wonder if stress in itself is detrimental to our health. Because if so, we are facing a serious global health problem that we must immediately address.
I would like you to think about this statement: "If you suffer from stress, you have an increased risk of death." In your opinion, is this statement true or false? Take your time.
Usually he does win. In fact, until recently, even health professionals responded with a resounding yes. But to answer this question, I would like to show you the results of one of the most amazing research that has been done on stress in recent times.
This research was carried out in the USA and studied 30.000 adults over 8 years, from 1998 to 2006. Subjects were asked two questions: the first was related to the stress levels they experienced ( eg: "How much stress have you experienced in the last year?"); the second question, and here comes the interesting thing, had to do with his perceptions about how stress affected your health (eg: "Do you think stress is bad for your health?"). In order to obtain concrete data, they used the public death registry and thus were able to verify who died during that time.
The conclusions were curious:
- First of all, for those people who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year, the risk of death increased by 43%. But that was only true for people who also believed that stress was detrimental to their health.
- People who experienced a lot of stress, but they didn't see stress as harmful, they had no more chance of dying.
- In fact, throughout the studythey had the lower risk of death including people who had had little stress.
What is the conclusion of all this? That danger is not only found in stress per se, but our way of living it, of approaching it.
Can changing our perception of stress make us healthier? Science tells us yes. By changing my opinion about stress, you can change your body's response to stress.
If you found it interesting, I recommend you see a TED TALK where this study and others on stress and perception are reflected: "How to turn stress into your friend" by Kelly McGonigal.